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G.R. No.

139028 April 12, 2000 Ruling of the Comelec
HADJI RASUL BATADOR BASHER, petitioner, The Comelec ruled against a failure of election because the two conditions laid down
vs. in Mitmug v. Comelec 8 were not established. It held that the "election was conducted on
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and ABULKAIR AMPATUA, respondents. the scheduled date. The precinct functioned. Actual voting took place, and it resulted not in
a failure to elect." 9
PANGANIBAN, J.: In justifying the balloting at the dead of night, the poll body cited Section 22, Article IV of
An election must be held at the place, date and time prescribed by law. Likewise, its Comelec Resolution 2971, which provided in part that "[i]f at three o'clock, there are still
suspension or postponement must comply requirements. Otherwise, it is irregular and void. voters within thirty meters in front of the polling place who have no cast their votes, the
The Case voting shall continue to allow said voters to cast their votes without interruption. . . ." The
Petitioner 1 assails before us the June 8, 1999 Resolution of the Commission on Elections Comelec then went on to state that "experience had shown that even when there is a long
(Comelec) 2 in SPA Case No. 97-276 which dismissed a Petition to Declare a Failure of delay in the commencement of the voting, voters continue to stay within the area of the
Election and to Call Special Election in Precinct No. 12, Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del polling place." 10
Sur. The assailed Resolution disposed as follows: Issue
In view of the foregoing considerations, We he[re]by hold that the special elections in Petitioner submits the following questions for the consideration of the Court:
Barangay Maidan, Tugaya Lanao del Sur on August 30, 1997 did not fail. The result thereof 1. Whether or not the election held at around 10:00 o'clock in the evening of August 30,
must therefore be accorded respect. 1997 after the Acting Election Officer had verbally declared or announced a failure of
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission En Banc RESOLVES to DISMISS the election in Precinct No. 12, Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur is contrary to law, rule
petition for lack of merit. 3 and jurisprudence;
The Facts 2. Whether or not the election held at the residence of an Ex-mayor far from the designated
Petitioner Hadji Rasul Batador Basher and Private Respondent Abulkair Ampatua were both Polling Place of Precinct No. 12, Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur is legal or valid;
candidates for the position of Punong Barangay in Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur 3. Whether or not the proclamation of the private respondent as the duly elected Punong
during the May 12, 1997 barangay election. The election was declared a failure and a Barangay of Barangay Maidan and the seven (7) Barangay is illegal, null and void ab
special one was set for June 12, 1997. Again the election failed and was reset to August 30, initio. 11
1997. In the main, the crucial question that needs to be addressed is whether the "election" held
According to the Comelec, the voting started only around 9:00 p.m. on August 30, 1997 on the date, at the time and in the place other than those officially designated by the law
because the prevailing tension in the said locality. Election Officer Diana Datu-Imam and by the Comelec was valid.
reported that she was allegedly advised by some religious leaders not to proceed with the The Court's Ruling
election because "it might trigger bloodshed." She also claimed the town mayor, "being too The Petition is meritorious.
hysterical, yelled and threatened me to declare [a] failure of election in Maidan." Main Issue:
Subsequently, the armed followers of the mayor pointed their guns at her military escorts, Validly of the Special Election
who responded in a like manner towards the former. The parties were then pacified at the Citing Mitmug v. Comelec, 12 the Comelec points our that a failure of election requires the
PNP headquarters. With the arrival of additional troops, the election officer proceeded to concurrence of two conditions, namely (1) no voting took place in the precinct or precincts
Maidan to conduct the election starting at 9:00 p.m. until the early morning of the following on the date fixed by law, or even if there was voting, the election resulted in a failure to
day. The holding of the election at that particular time was allegedly announced "over the elect; and (2) the votes not cast would have affected the result of the election. It ruled that
mosque." 4 these requirements were not met.1âwphi1.nêt
The tally sheet for the said "election" showed the following results: private respondent — We do not agree. The peculiar set of facts in the present case show not merely a failure of
250 votes; petitioner — 15 votes; and Baulo Abdul Razul, a third candidate — 10 election but the absence of a valid electoral exercise. Otherwise stated, the disputed
votes. 5 Private respondent was proclaimed winner. "election" was illegal, irregular and void.
Petitioner then filed a Petition before the Comelec praying that the election be declared a Election Situs Was Illegal
failure. Alleging that no election was conducted in place and at the time prescribed by law, First, the place where the voting was conducted was illegal. Section 42 of the Omnibus
petitioner narrated that there was a dispute that day (August 30, 1997) among the Election Code provides that "[t]he chairman of the board of election tellers shall designate
candidates regarding the venue of the election in the lone voting precinct of the barangay. the public school or any other public buildingwithin the barangay to be used as polling place
In order to avoid bloodshed, they ultimately agreed that no election would be conducted. in case the barangay has one election precinct . . .. " Petitioner, citing an
Accordingly, the election officer turned over for safekeeping the ballot box containing Affidavit 13 supposedly executed by the members of the Board of Election Tellers (BET) for
election paraphernalia to the acting station commander (OIC) of the Philippine National Barangay Maidan, alleges that the election of officials for said barangay was held at the
Police (PNP). The following day, petitioner and the third candidate were surprised to learn residence of former Mayor Alang Sagusara Pukunun, which is located at Barangay
that the election officer had directed the Board of Election Tellers to conduct the election Pandarianao, instead of the officially designated polling precinct at Cagayan Elementary
and to fill up the election returns and certificates of canvass on the night of August 30, 1997 School. If this allegation were true, such "election" cannot be valid, as it was not held within
at the residence of the former mayor. Petitioner also stated that no announcement to hold the barangay of the officials who were being elected. On the other hand, it is admitted that
the election at the former mayor's house that night was ever made. 6 there was a public school or building in Barangay Maidan — the Cagayan Elementary
As earlier stated, the Comelec dismissed the Petition. Hence, this recourse to this Court. 7 School, which was the earlier validly designated voting center.

While the BET members later repudiated their Affidavit, they could only claim that the violence and bloodshed in the said barangay. Allegedly because of the tension created by
election was held "in Barangay Maidan." 14 They, however, failed to specify the exact venue. armed escorts of the municipal mayor and the military, Datu-Imam declared a failure of
In fact, to this date, even the respondents have failed to disclose where exactly the voting election in order "to ease their aggression." However, as election officer, she has no
was conducted. This glaring omission definitely raises serious questions on whether the authority to declare a failure of election. Indeed, only the Comelec itself has legal authority
election was indeed held in a place allowed by law. to exercise such awesome power. An election officer alone, or even with the agreement of
Voting Time Was Likewise Irregular the candidates, cannot validly postpone or suspend the elections.
Second, as to the time for voting, the law provides that "[t]he casting of votes shall start at Election Postponement Was Invalid
seven o'clock in the morning and shall end at three o'clock in the afternoon, except when Fourth, Datu-Imam did not follow the procedure laid down by law for election postponement
there are voters present within thirty meters in front of the polling place who have not yet or suspension or the declaration of a failure of election. She narrated the circumstances
cast their votes, in which case the voting shall continue but only to allow said voters to cast surrounding her declaration as follows: 18
their votes without interruption." 15 Section 22, Article IV of Comelec Resolution No. 2971 When I returned to [as]certain the situation in Maidan, the Mayor, being too hysterical,
also specifies that the voting hours shall start promptly at 7:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. of yelled and threatened me to declare [a] failure of elections in Maidan. When I insisted to
the same day. personally confirm the probable cause of bloodshed (at Maidan), his armed
However, the "election" for Barangay Maidan officials was supposed to have been held after followers/escorts pointed their guns to me and my escorts. Likewise my military escorts
9:00 p.m. of August 30, 1997 until the wee hours of the following day. Certainly, such pointed their guns to the mayor and his men "Man to Man". The Datus and religious leaders
schedule was not in accordance with law or the Comelec Rules. The Comelec erred in pacified us at the PNP Headquarters.
relying on the second sentence of Section 22, Article IV of Comelec Resolution 2971, which After a couple of hours, the military officers and I agreed to adapt another strategy just to
states that "[i]f at three o'clock [in the afternoon], there are still voters within thirty meters pursue with the elections in Maidan [by] hook or by crook. Considering that they forcibly
in front of the polling place who have not cast their votes, the voting shall continue to allow took away from us the ballot box containing paraphernalia of Maidan, I didn't have any
said voters to cast their votes without interruption." This sentence presupposes that the recourse but give them. I turned-over the ballot box to the Acting Chief of Police, Malik
election commenced during the official time and is simply continued beyond 3:00 p.m. in Bantuas with proper receipt, taking away from the box the CEF 2 & 2-A, declaring verbally a
order to accommodate voters who are within thirty meters of the polling place, already failure of elections in Maidan just to ease their aggression and so that we could pull-out of
waiting for their turn to cast their votes. This is clearly the meaning and intent of the word the place freely.
continue — "to go on in a specified course of action or condition." 16 The action or condition It clearly appears from the very report of Datu-Imam to the Comelec that she did not
already subsists and is allowed to go on. Otherwise, the law should have stated instead that conduct any proceeding, summary or otherwise, to find out whether any of the legal
"the voting may also start even beyond 3:00 p.m. if there are voters within thirty meters in grounds for the suspension or postponement or the declaration of failure of the election
front of the polling place." actually existed in the barangay concerned.
The strained interpretation espoused by the Comelec encourages the conduct of Notice Was Irregular
clandestine "elections," for it virtually authorizes the holding of elections beyond normal Finally and very significantly, the electorate was not given ample notice of the exact
hours, even at midnight when circumstances could be more threatening and conductive to schedule and venue of the election. The election officer herself
unlawful activities. On a doctrinal basis, such nocturnal electoral practice discourages the relates: 19
people's exercise of their fundamental right of suffrage, by exposing them to the dangers When the tension was slightly alleviated, I directed the military personnel to pull-out of the
concomitant to the dead of night, especially in far-lung barangays constantly threatened Municipio and withdrew to a nearby Barangay (for safety) where some of the militaries (sic)
with rebel and military gunfires. were deployed. After planning and coordinating with the Batallion (sic) Commander, we
Election Date Was Invalid waited for the additional troups (sic) that arrived at around 8:30 in the evening. At the
Third, the Comelec scheduled the special election on August 30, 1997. Any suspension or stroke of 9:00 o'clock, we started for Maidan via the national Highway thru the Municipality
postponement of an election is governed by Section 2 of RA of Balindong and others thru a short-cut way (sic) eastward of Tugaya. Utilizing the election
6679, 17 which states that "[w]hen for any serious cause such as rebellion, insurrection, paraphernalia earlier shipped by the Commission as I have requested (sic) and a ballot box
violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia, and any analogous causes from the PES, we went on with the election (after announcing it over the mosque)
of such nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become peacefully orderly despite the tiredness (sic) and exhaustion felt by the people the whole
impossible in any barangay, the Commission on Election motu proprio or upon sworn day waiting/expecting for the election as I have assured them earlier (sic). . . .
petition of ten (10) registered voters of a barangay, after summary proceedings of the As can be gleaned easily from the above report, the electorate of Barangay Maidan was not
existence of such grounds, shall suspend or postpone the election therein to a date given due notice that the election would push through after 9:00 p.m. that same day.
reasonably close to the date of the election that is not held or is suspended or postponed, Apparently, the election officer's decision to hold the election on the night of August 30,
or which resulted in a failure to elect, but not later than thirty (30) days after the cessation 1997 was precipitate. Only after additional military troops had arrived at their site in a
of the cause for such suspension or postponement of the election or failure to elect, and in nearby barangay about 8:30 p.m. did the election officers proceed to Barangay Maidan.
all cases not later than ninety (90) days from the date of the original election." Arriving at Maidan, they allegedly proceeded to conduct the election "after announcing it
Election Officer Diana Datu-Imam of Tugaya, Lanao del Sur practically postponed the over the mosque."
election in Barangay Maidan from the official original schedule of 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. of Such abbreviated announcement "over the mosque" at such late hour did NOT constitute
August 30, 1997 to 10:00 p.m. of August 30, 1997 until the early morning of August 31, sufficient notice to the electorate. Consequently, not the entire electorate or even a
1997. She attempted to justify her postponement of the election by citing threats of

respectable number could have known of the activity and actually participated therein or sought, 2 and considering the interest of justice, we accordingly treat this petition as a
voluntarily and discerningly chosen not to have done so. special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65.
Indeed, the Court in Hassan v. Comelec 20 held that the notice given on the afternoon of the During the May 12, 1997 barangay election, petitioner Hadji Rasul Batabor Basher, the
election day resetting the election to the following day and transferring its venue was "too incumbent punong barangay, and private respondent Abulkair Ampatua were candidates for
short." We said that "[t]o require the voters to come to the polls on such short notice was the position of punong barangay. However, there was a failure of election in Precinct No. 12,
highly impracticable. . . . It is essential to the validity of the election that the voters have the lone precinct of Barangay Maiden, prompting the COMELEC to reset the election to June
notice in some form, either actual or constructive, of the time, place and purpose 11, 1997. Unfortunately, there was again a failure of election. Election was reset to August
thereof. 21 The time for holding it must be authoritatively designated in advance." 22 30, 1997.
In the case at bar, the announcement was made only minutes before the supposed voting. Reports submitted to the COMELEC indicated that election was held as re-scheduled, and
If one-day notice was held to be insufficient in Hassan, the much shorter notice in the that private respondent along with Monatao Ebrahem, Lontowa Pokaan, Baser Abdala,
present case should all the more be declared wanting. It should in fact be equated with "no Saadia Gonteng, Kodos Mangebarat, Bonsa Mabatao and Kamilo Hadji Rasul were
notice." proclaimed as duly elected punong barangay and barangay kagawads, respectively, of
In sum, the "election" supposedly held for officials of Barangay Maidan cannot be clothed Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur.
with any form of validity. It was clearly unauthorized and invalid. It had no legal leg to stand In his letters dated September 2, 1997 3 and September 5, 1997 4 to the COMELEC,
on. Not only did the suspension/postponement not comply with the procedure laid down by petitioner requested that a failure of election be declared in Precinct No. 12. Petitioner
law and the Comelec Rules, neither was there sufficient notice of the time and date when claimed:
and the place where it would actually be conducted. It was thus as if no election was held at xxx xxx xxx
all. Hence, its results could not determine the winning punong barangay. That in the early morning of August 30, 1997, I together with other candidates for Barangay
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed Resolution SET ASIDE. The Officials and registered voters of Precinct No. 12, Barangay Maidan, and several others
proclamation of private respondent as punong barangay is hereby declared VOID. including local officials and some candidates of other barangays, were in the Municipal Hall
Respondent Comelec is ORDERED to conduct a special election for punong barangay of of Tugaya, Lanao del Sur to observe and witness the releases (sic) of Ballot boxes and other
Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur as soon as possible. No pronouncement as to costs. election paraphernalias (sic) intended for the eight (8) barangays where special elections
SO ORDERED. will be conducted including barangay Maidan;
Davide, Jr., C.J., Melo, Puno, Kapunan, Mendoza, Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes That the ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia for the seven (7) barangays were
and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur. released to the Board of Election tellers and the special elections therein have (sic)
Bellosillo, J., no part. Did not take part in deliberation. functioned but in Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur, there was again a failure of
Vitug, J., abroad on official business. election thereat (sic) because of the disagreement among candidates and watchers on (sic)
De Leon, Jr., see dissent. the venue of the voting on account of the presence of an estimated number (sic) of two
Purisima, J., I join the dissent of Mr. Justice de Leon. hundred (200) heavily armed persons in the nearby premises of the Polling Place (sic) of
# Separate Opinions Precinct No. 12, Barangay Maidan at Cayagan Elementary School who were determined to
DE LEON, JR., J., dissenting opinion; commit violence or disrupt and/or disturb the election therein to ensure the victories of their
With due respect, I dissent from the majority decision or ponencia of Mr. Justice Artemio V. beloved candidates;
Panganiban which grants the petition in the case at bench. That on account of said serious disagreement and the intercession of local officials, civic
Before us is a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 which seeks to set aside the and religious not to conduct the special election in Barangay Maidan to avoid bloodshed and
Resolution 1 dated June 8, 1999 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc in SPA loss of lives and damage to properties, it was agreed that no election will be held and so the
Case No. 97-276, denying petitioner's petition to declare a failure of election in Precinct No. Acting Election Officer, Mrs. Diana T. Datu Imam, delivered and turn (sic) over the ballot box
12, Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur and to annul the proclamation of private containing all election paraphernalia intended for Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur
respondent and seven (7) others as winners of the August 30, 1997 barangay special to Malic Bantuas, OIC Satition (sic) Commander or Chief of Police of said Municipality as
election. evidenced by an acknowledgment Receipt signed by said OIC Station Commander xerox
The petitioner captioned and erroneously stated that the nature of this petition is a "petition copy of which is hereto attached marked as Annex "A" and formed integral part hereof;
for review oncertiorari." However, in this verified petition, the petitioner alleges that That after turning over and delivery of said ballot box to the aforesaid OIC Station
respondent COMELEC "acted without or in excess of jurisdiction and/or grave abuse of Commander, the Acting Election Officer left and never returned to the Municipal Hall where
discretion:" (a) in dismissing the petition in SPA No. 97-276 for alleged lack of merit; (b) in I and other candidates had been waiting for further advice from the same Election Officer;
not declaring a failure of election on August 30, 1997 and not calling for a special election in xxx xxx xxx
Precinct No. 12, Barangay Maidan, Tugaya, Lanao del Sur; and (c) in not declaring as illegal, That to my great surprise with other candidates for barangay officials in our barangay and
null and void ab initio the proclamation on August 30, 1997 of private respondent as the the electors thereat (sic), we learned on the following morning of August 31, 1997, that
duly elected Punong Barangay of Barangay Maidan. Petitioner then prays that COMELEC's Acting Election Officer and her alleged designated Board of Election Teller's conducted an
assailed Resolution be reversed, the proclamation of private respondent as Punong election in an unknown place at around 2:00 A.M. of August 31, 1997, without any notice to
Barangay be annulled and that COMELEC be ordered to set a special election in the same me and other candidates and the electors themselves (sic) and then allegedly proclaimed
precinct or barangay. Considering the well-settled rule that what determines the nature of some candidates for Punong Barangay and Barangay Kagawads as winners. 5
action are the allegations of the complaint or petition, and the character of the relief xxx xxx xxx

In her unrebutted report to COMELEC Commissioner Manolo B. Gorospe, Election Officer in fact in Barangay Maidan and that it started only at 9:00 o'clock p.m. due to the presence
Mrs. Diana T. Datu Imam recounted the events that took place on August 30, 1997 as of the Mayor's armed followers who earlier in the day confiscated the original ballot box and
follows: pointed their guns at Election Officer Datu Imam and her military escorts. Hence, COMELEC
xxx xxx xxx held that the said election is valid inasmuch as Section 22, Article IV of COMELEC Resolution
Prior to the Election, on August 29, 1997, I coordinated with the Battalion Commander, Col. No. 2971 permits the casting of ballots even after 3:00 o'clock p.m. if there are voters
Luciano Campos of Malanang, Lanao del Sur and discussed the prevailing peace and order within thirty (30) meters from the polling place who have not cast their votes. The COMELEC
condition of (sic) Tugaya. Later, I proceeded to the Municipality of Pualas to personally also considered the importance attached to barangay elections by the barangay electorate
confer with the my (sic) Military In-Charge regarding probable causes of failure of elections as evidenced by the fact that voters of the said Precinct No. 12, which significantly is the
that might be imposed (sic) by the people who doesn't (sic) want an election. At 1:30 in the lone precinct in Barangay Maidan, continued to stay within the vicinity of the polling place
afternoon, the military personnel were deployed in Tugaya on that same day (sic). obviously to be able to vote even when the commencement of voting has long been
On Election Day, as I was approaching the PNP Headquarters, some religious leaders delayed. The COMELEC stressed that this was precisely the case in Barangay Maidan,
advised me not to pursue with the election because an election in Tugaya will cause trouble considering that the barangay election therein has already been postponed twice. The
and might trigger bloodshed. The Mayor invited me for a short conference and furnished me COMELEC pointed out that the two (2) conditions for declaring a failure of election cited
a copy of then spurious resolution to bar the holding of election. In return, I gave him a copy in Mitmug v. COMELEC, 7namely (1) no voting has taken place in the precinct or precincts on
of the Memo of Atty. Pio Jose S. Joson and proceeded immediately to distribute the Election the date fixed by law or, even if there was voting, the election nevertheless results in failure
Paraphernalia to the respective Military BETs. to elect, and (2) the votes not cast would affect the result of the election, are not present in
Without further ado, I personally escorted the BETs to their respective polling places this case.
westward (sic) of Tugaya at the same time directing the Military to go eastward for Brgy. Dissatisfied, petitioner filed the instant petition.
Maidan, so that I will be going back (sic) to personally supervise their election after The petition is not meritorious.
delivering the 7 Barangays (sic). Petitioner assails the validity of the August 30, 1997 barangay special election on two (2)
When I returned to certain (sic) the situation in Maidan, the Mayor, being too hysterical, grounds: first, as to the time when it was conducted, and second, as to the place where it
yelled and threatened me to declare failure of elections in Maidan. When I insisted to was held. It is not disputed that the said barangay special election in Barangay Maidan was
personally confirm the probable cause of bloodshed (at Maidan), his armed finally conducted from 9:00 o'clock p.m. on August 30, 1997 until 3:00 o'clock a.m. of the
followers/escorts pointed their guns to me (sic) and my escorts. Likewise, my military following day in view of the presence of the Mayor's armed followers who earlier in the day
escorts pointed their guns to (sic) the mayor and his men men (sic) "Man to Man." The pointed their guns at Election Officer Datu Imam and her military escorts. It cannot be
Datus and religious leaders pacified us at the PNP Headquarters. denied that the COMELEC has the power to declare a failure of election. 8
After a couple of hours, the military officer and I agreed to adapt (sic) another strategy just Petitioner, alleges that candidates and voters were not given prior notice that the said
to pursue with the elections in Maidan hook or by crook. Considering that they forcibly took barangay special election would take place in the evening of August 30, 1997; that the
away from us the ballot box containing paraphernalia of Maidan, I didn't have any recourse designated time for the special election was contrary to Section 22, Article IV of COMELEC
but give them (sic). I turned-over the ballot box to the Acting Chief of Police, Malik Bantuas Resolution No. 2971, which specifies that voting hours shall promptly start at 7:00 o'clock
with proper receipt, taking away from the box the CEF 2 & 2-A, declaring verbally a failure a.m. and shall end at 3:00 o'clock p.m.; and that the barangay election was held at the
of elections in Maidan just to ease their aggression and so that we could pull-out of the residence of a former mayor, allegedly in an area far from the designated polling place, and
place freely (sic). that only one or a few individuals allegedly accomplished the ballots. As a consequence
When the tension was slightly alleviated, I directed the military personnel to pull-out of the thereof, petitioner, his running mates for barangay kagawad and their respective supporters
Municipio and withdrew to a nearby Barangay (for safety) where some of the militaries (sic) were allegedly unable to cast their votes thereby warranting a declaration by the COMELEC
were deployed. After planning and coordinating with the Batallion (sic) Commander, we that there was a failure of election.
waited for the additional troups (sic) that arrived at around 8:30 in the evening. At the The time during which the election in Barangay Maidan was conducted on August 30, 1997
stroke of 9:00 O'clock, we started for Maidan via the national Highway thru the Municipality was somewhat unusual due to the extraordinary circumstances. However, that it was
of Balindong and others thru a short-cut way (sic) eastward of Tugaya. Utilizing the election allegedly contrary to COMELEC Resolution No. 2971 and Section 190 of the Omnibus
paraphernalia earlier shipped by the Commission as I have requested (sic) and a ballot box Election Code was not actually so. We bear in mind our disquisition in Hassan
from the PES, we went on with the election (after announcing it over the mosque) v.COMELEC 9 that:
peacefully and orderly despite the tiredness (sic) and exhaustion felt by the people the It is essential to the validity of the election that the voters have notice in some form, either
whole day waiting/expecting for the election as I have assured them earlier (sic). The actual or constructive, of the time, place and purpose thereof. The time for holding it must
people were very thankful and relieved because the alleged report of creating bloodshed be authoritatively designated in advance. The requirement of notice even becomes stricter
were brazen lie and merely tricks (sic). in cases of special elections where it was called by some authority after the happening of a
The Special Elections in Tugaya was finished at 3 O-clock in the morning. All of the 8 condition precedent, or at least there must be a substantial compliance therewith so it may
Barangays functioned. 6 fairly and reasonably be said that the purpose of the statute has been carried out. The
Petitioner then filed a petition with the COMELEC, docketed as SPA Case No. 97-276, sufficiency of notice is determined on whether the voters generally have knowledge of the
praying that the barangay special election in Precinct No. 12 be declared a failure and that time, place and purpose of the elections so as to give them full opportunity to attend the
the proclamation of private respondent and the other kagawads be declared null and void. polls and express their will or on other hand, whether the omission resulted in depriving a
The COMELEC dismissed the petition and found that the barangay special election was held

he states that the election was allegedly preliminary injunction is the Resolution of the Commission on Elections en held at an unknown place. Sambarani. in the light of the unique circumstances in this case. exercising the power only when it is shown that the irregularities and in Lanao del Sur including the five barangays. 10 obtain in the case at bench. In support of his allegation. petitioners. the circumstances of the case at bench. 12 which is the only precinct of the said barangay. SAMERA ABUBACAR and MACABIGUNG Sur. Jamal Miraato ("Miraato"). not being a trier of facts. these two conditions do not as to change the result of the election.nêt total number of registered voters in Barangay Maidan and the number of voters who were allegedly unable to exercise their right of suffrage in the said barangay special election. Ferdinand vs. Tamparan. barangays"). Lanao del Sur. on 13 August 2002. presented the affidavits of Cpl. has to give due weight refused to conduct another special election. 16 In the light of the facts as borne in the records. petitioner alleges that the barangay election The Case was held at the house of the former mayor while in his affidavit. petitioner MASCARA. Sadain’s . In the case at bench. On the other their votes. Petitioner disputes the IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING. therefore. Lanao del Sur were able to cast election in Precinct No. Apart from his bare No. namely: Occidental Linuk. and credence to the findings of facts of COMELEC. J. was in In the 15 July 2002 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections fact held in Barangay Maidan. did not act with grave abuse of discretion. in rendering its subject Resolution dated June 8.: vernacular. However. Lanao del Sur. contents of their first affidavit on the ground that they were "ready made" and that they DECISION had no knowledge of its contents as their first affidavit was not translated to them in the CARPIO. On 14 August 2002. 15 As a rule. 12 which is the substantial portion of the electorate was prejudiced thereby. On the other hand. Unlike Hassan. 14 we held that courts should be slow Resolution No. and Tatayawan South ("five predominantly Muslim. Is that just and equitable? votes whereas he (petitioner) was credited with only 15 votes. resetting the special election to May 29. the announcement was made in the mosque a few hours to deviate from these jurisprudential rulings of this Court. Samera Abubacar barangay were sufficiently notified as to the place and time of said barangay special ("Abubacar").546 registered voters in five (5) precincts of Madalum. With respect to petitioner's allegation that the barangay election in Barangay Maidan was G. 1999 in SP Case with several relatives. JAMAL MIRAATO. Tugaya. Lanao del POLALA SAMBARANI. Fukunum in Pandiaranao. It is my considered opinion probability of these results in view of the fact that he was the incumbent punong barangay that respondent COMELEC. Those conflicting allegations cast doubt on the petitioner's banc ("COMELEC")2 dated 8 October 2003. there is before voting actually commenced. even if there was voting. the following conditions must be satisfied before the COMELEC can favorably act upon a Consequently. 17 and Co In Hassan which involves a municipal election. The Joint Petition attributed the failure of the special result in a failure to elect. resulted in frustrate the will of the majority of the barangay electorate to elect the private respondent the disenfranchisement of a substantial number of voters and that the votes not cast would as Punong Barangay and to reject the petitioner who resorted to legal technicalities and materially affect the results of the election. there was no indication in the subject petition. this Court. Lanao del Sur or whoever is acting on his Maidan. In the case at bar. the elections nevertheless holding of another special election. Consequently. Abubacar. The notification or announcement was for re-election as punong barangay in their respective barangays. and more particularly to the unrebutted The Facts Report 1 of Election Officer Datu Imam that the subject barangay special election. Provincial Election Supervisor of Lanao del Sur that voting was actually held in Barangay Acting Election Officer. to grant the Petition. we find the same unworthy of credence. Mascara and Dayondong ("joint-petitioners") petition to declare a failure of election: (1) that no voting has taken place in the precinct or filed a Joint Petition seeking to declare a failure of elections in the five barangays and the precincts on the date fixed by law or. COMELEC. all in Tamparan. The Petition in the case at bench assertions. Bangayan. 18 we refused to declare a failure of election despite alleged irregularities in May 28. and Esmael Maulay ("EO Maulay") issued a certification that there were no special elections held which in fact defeat the true expression of the will of the electorate. Acting Election Officer frauds are so numerous as to show an unmistakable intention or design to defraud. the said affiants executed another affidavit 11 disclaiming the behalf. Tugaya. as found by the COMELEC. much less evidence. 2004 held at the house of former Mayor Alang S. New Lumbacaingud. Talub. means to announcement or notice made in the mosque of Barangay Maidan whose populace is declare a failure of the barangay special election for the third time. Ale Garcia and Pfc. in the the conduct of elections in the absence of evidence that the right of suffrage of a case at bench which involves a barangay special election in Precinct No. friends and supporters in Barangay Maidan. respondents. as to the should be as it is hereby DISMISSED. As early as Mandac v. certainly absence of evidence that the right of suffrage of a substantial portion of the impel us to arrive at a different conclusion. we held that notice given in the afternoon of v. we found that only 328 out of the electorate of Barangay Maidan was allegedly prejudiced in the said barangay special 1. The power to declare a failure of election and to set aside the results thereof is an Due to a failure of elections in eleven barangays in Lanao del Sur. 5479 setting special elections on 13 August 2002 in the affected barangays in nullifying elections. Polala Sambarani ("Sambarani"). However. the COMELEC issued extraordinary remedy. Miraato. More importantly. 97-276. 12 which was executed Challenged in this petition for certiorari1 with prayer for temporary restraining order and three (3) days after the barangay special election. The COMELEC declared a failure of election but credibility. 160427 September 15. the said affiants testified before the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EO ESMAEL MAULAY. Conrado Doroy. and thereby unwittingly predominantly Muslim living in the small territorial jurisdiction of said barangay. Cpl. I vote to deny the Petition. in Balindong v. We find no compelling reason sole precinct in Barangay Maidan. In Hassan. Petitioner merely alleges that private relied on the presence of the threatening armed followers of the Mayor who is obviously respondent. No. was insufficient.1âwphi1. Samonte. garnered 250 sympathetic to the petitioner. and that the registered voters of said ("elections"). who is one of his opponents for the position of punong barangay. 1995. Macabigung Mascara ("Mascara") and Aliasgar Dayondong ("Dayondong") ran election which was in fact a neighborhood election. In his petition before this Court. and (2) the votes not cast would affect the result of the elections to EO Maulay’s non-compliance with COMELEC Commissioner Mehol K.R.sufficient number of the qualified electors of the opportunity of exercising their franchise so election. COMELEC. made in the mosque in that barangay because the voters of Barangay Maidan Pindolonan Moriatao Sarip. the records are bereft of any evidence that the said hand.

elections. Maulay did not On 8 October 2003. EO Maulay did not file a 2001 ARMM elections. First Issue: In the 1 October 2002 hearing. logistical and financial cessation of the cause of such postponement. specifically the ruling in Basher v. Talub. as in reasonably close to the date of the election not held."8 The authority given to COMELEC to declare a failure of elections and to election in these barangays as prayed for by petitioners is untenable. Denying the prayer to call for another special election in barangays Occidental Linuk. plebiscite. Government. Not declaring the petitioners as the rightful incumbent barangay chairmen of their office Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao ("ARMM") 2001 computerized Voter’s List and the until their successors have been elected and qualified. of the State. the text and intent of this Finally. in accordance with the pertinent provisions of Republic Act No.4 administrative in nature. achieve its primordial objective of holding free. Voter’s Registration Records of the Provincial Election Officer during the December 2001 The Court’s Ruling registration of new voters. the COMELEC issued the assailed Resolution. It is elementary in administrative law that "courts will not interfere The COMELEC’s Ruling in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted The COMELEC agreed with petitioners that the special elections held on 13 August 2002 in with the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and training the five barangays failed. Talub. the Municipality of Tamparan. EO Maulay. The COMELEC ordered the parties to submit their memoranda within 20 Petitioners fault the COMELEC for not holding another special election after the failed 13 days. of Tamparan. but a waste of its precious resources. barangay COMELEC anchored its refusal to call another special election on the last portion of Section kagawads. the COMELEC refuses to hold elections due to operational. Lanao The Solicitor General supports the COMELEC’s stance that a special election can be held del Sur. otherwise only within thirty days after the cause of postponement or failure of election has ceased.11 The right of suffrage is enshrined in the Constitution because through suffrage the lack of jurisdiction in – people exercise their sovereign authority to choose their representatives in the governance 1.7 SO ORDERED. but not later than thirty days after this case. But what if. Petitioners contend that COMELEC’s refusal to call another special election proceed with the appointment of Barangay Captains and Barangay Kagawads as well as SK conflicts with established jurisprudence. Directing the DILG to proceed with the appointment of the barangay captains. The COMELEC. The COMELEC’s own acting election officer. numbers 00097501 to 0009800 allocated and released to Tamparan. readily admitted left to the Department of Interior and Local Government ("DILG") the process of appointing that there were no special elections in these barangays. The parties did not attend the hearing scheduled on 11 September 2002 despite due notice. The COMELEC also directed EO Maulay to explain in writing why he should not be August 2002 special election. SK chairmen and SK kagawads in the subject barangays. New Lumbacaingud ("subject barangays").10 It involves the choice or selection of candidates to public office by popular Petitioners contend that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to vote. Pindolonan Moriatao Sarip. special Barangay and SK elections in the subject barangays? The COMELEC also pointed out that to hold another special election in these barangays will Neither the candidates nor the voters of the affected barangays caused the failure of the not only be tedious and cumbersome. Pindolonan Elections. Tatayawan South. and other related laws on the matter. "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election. The the subject barangays failed because EO Maulay did not use the voter’s list used during the joint-petitioners filed their Memorandum on 25 October 2002. Commission on Chairmen and SK Kagawads in Barangays Occidental Linuk. and the respective Section 2(1) of Article IX(C) of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power to Sangguniang Barangays of Barangays Occidental Linuk. peaceful and credible and consequently. known as the Local Government Code of 1991. Talub. ruled that to hold another special of such agencies. disposing as follows: delete from the certified list of candidates the name of disqualified candidate Candidato ACCORDINGLY." Indisputably. The COMELEC considered the case Voter’s Registration Records ("VRRs") were not among those 500 VRRs bearing serial submitted for resolution. Government Code of 1991 and other related laws on the matter.3 The functions of the COMELEC under the Constitution are essentially executive and Sambarani.9 explained that it is no longer in a position to call for another special election since Section 6 The marked trend in our laws has been to grant the COMELEC ample latitude so it can more of the Omnibus Election Code provides that "special elections shall be held on a date effectively perform its duty in safeguarding the sanctity of our elections.("Commissioner Sadain") directive. counsel for joint-petitioners as well as EO Maulay and his Whether To Call Another Special Election counsel appeared. and New Lumbacaingud. 6 of the Omnibus Election Code ( "Section 6") which reads: ."5 An election is the embodiment of the popular will. The COMELEC call for special elections falls under its administrative function. initiative. Commissioner Sadain had directed EO Maulay to use the 3. Tatayawan South and New Lumbacaingud. the Department of Interior and Local Government is hereby DIRECTED to Manding. The petition is meritorious. The Solicitor General also maintains that the DILG has the power to appoint and fill Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished to the Department of Interior and Local vacancies in the concerned elective barangay and SK offices. The COMELEC also found that the the Barangay Captains and Barangay Kagawads as well as the Sangguniang Kabataan Provincial Election Supervisor of Lanao del Sur and the Regional Election Director of Region ("SK") Chairmen and SK Kagawads in these barangays "in accordance with the Local XII did not contest the fact that there were no special elections in these barangays. Finally. referendum. the filing of administrative charges against him if warranted. The fact that the elections involved in this case pertain to the lowest level of Pindolonan Moriatao Sarip. the expression of the sovereign power of The Issues the people. The COMELEC special elections. honest. Neither did Maulay segregate and exclude those voters whose memorandum or a written explanation as directed. Lanao [d]el Sur. 2. however.6 Moriatao Sarip. 7160. Petitioners insist that the special barangay and SK elections in administratively charged for failing to comply with Commissioner Sadain’s directive. our political organization is not a justification to disenfranchise voters. Miraato. all of Tamparan." The COMELEC noted that more than thirty problems? Did the COMELEC gravely abuse its discretion in refusing to conduct a second days had elapsed since the failed election. let a copy of this Resolution be furnished to the Law Department for Preliminary constitutional provision is to give COMELEC all the necessary and incidental powers for it to Investigation of Respondent ESMAEL MAULAY for possible commission of election offense/s. and recall. Abubacar and Mascara ("petitioners") filed the instant petition. orderly.

shall postpone the election therein for such time as it may shall remain in office unless sooner removed or suspended for cause until their successors deem necessary. the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to this Court ordered the COMELEC "to conduct a special election for punong barangay of elect.16 In any event. Instead. and enjoy the rights and privileges pertaining to the office. on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due special elections is within thirty days from the time the cause of postponement has ceased. suspended Thus.] it should be reasonably close to Had the COMELEC resolved to hold special elections in its Resolution dated 8 October 2003. The deadline in Section 6 cannot defeat the right of suffrage of the In this case. special elections could be held anytime. The operational. provided the date of the Commission shall.SEC. COMELEC may fix other dates for the conduct of special elections when the same cannot be Second and Third Issues: Whether the DILG may Appoint reasonably held within the period prescribed by law. In applying election laws. prescribes the before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting therein and such failure or term of office of barangay and SK officials. and other elective punong barangays in the four barangays. It is directory. Section 45 provides: proceed with the appointment of Barangay Captains and Barangay Kagawads as well as SK SEC. Section 45 states that special custody or canvass thereof. or after Unlike Section 6. suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after election on 30 August 1997 which this Court declared irregular and void. shall have been elected and qualified. 9164 ("RA 9164")19 provides: interested party and after due notice and hearing at which the interested parties are given Sec.17 prescribed by law. and provides for the qualifications of candidates suspension of election would affect the result of the election. Petitioners argue that as the incumbent terrorism. It is the duty of this interested parties are given equal opportunity to be heard shall call for the holding or Court to apply the plain meaning of the language of Section 5. violence. the cause of postponement after the second failure of elections was people as guaranteed by the Constitution. petition of at least thirty percent of the registered voters in the barangay concerned. The COMELEC erroneously perceived that the COMELEC’s refusal to hold a special election because of (1) its erroneous interpretation of deadline in Section 6 is absolute. Hold Over. violence. the to failure of elections and special elections are hereby reiterated in this Act. the Commission. on the basis and voters for the SK elections. (Emphasis other analogous cases the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed. fraud or other analogous causes. it shall . but it is not impossible. (Emphasis supplied) Maidan. at which the As the law now stands. or upon the Local Government Code limits the term of elective barangay officials to three years. this Court had already held that special elections under Section 6 COMELEC possesses residual power to conduct special elections even beyond the deadline would entail minimal costs because it covers only the precincts in the affected barangays. upon verification by the Commission. They shall continue to discharge their powers and duties as punong concerned. notice and hearing. The it would not be as pressed for time as it is now. orderly and honest election over capacity until their successors have been elected and qualified. 6679 ("RA 6679")15 stating that the special barangay election should In fixing the date for special elections the COMELEC should see to it that: 1. Logically. it would be better to The prohibition on conducting special elections after thirty days from the cessation of the err in favor of popular sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood cause of the failure of elections is not absolute. The COMELEC has broad power or authority to fix other the law. A special election will require considered "reasonably close to the date of the election not held. Lanao del Sur as soon as possible. True." suspension of the election or the failure to elect. 5." This despite the provision in Section The Court construed Section 6 in Pangandaman v. We rule that dates for special elections to enable the people to exercise their right of suffrage. Thus.12 as follows – 214 of Republic Act No. The COMELEC’s reasons for refusing to hold another special election are void. or order the holding of the barangay election which was postponed or suspended. operational and financial problems. Section 5 of Republic should become impossible in any barangay. Since there was a failure of continuation of the election within thirty days after it shall have verified and found that the elections in the 15 July 2002 regular elections and in the 13 August 2002 special elections. in Basher13 the COMELEC declared the 27 May 1997 barangay elections a failure and or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election set special elections on 12 June 1997 which also failed. Tugaya. On 12 April 2000. and the legalisms. fraud. supplied) or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting. loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records. COMELEC. of a verified petition of an interested party. suspension or failure to elect may still be personnel and other deputized agencies of the government.18 they should remain in office in a hold- analogous causes of such nature that the holding of a free. and after due notice and hearing. on account of force majeure. and (2) its perceived logistical. Failure of election. the holding of elections within the next few months from the election can be solved with proper planning. chairmen and SK Kagawads in the four barangays. cause or causes for which the election has been postponed or suspended have ceased to petitioners can legally remain in office as barangay chairmen of their respective barangays exist or upon petition of at least thirty percent of the registered voters in the barangay in a hold-over capacity. 2. The COMELEC set another special not held. force majeure. the language of Section 5 of RA 9164 is clear. the Commission. terrorism. such election results in a failure to elect. – If. Section 45 does not state that special elections should be held on a date the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the reasonably close to the date of the election not held. Section 43(c) of When the conditions in these areas warrant. and in any of such elections should be held within thirty days from the cessation of the causes for cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election. call for the holding or continuation of the election not held. logistical and financial first involves a question of fact. barangay. the postponement. terrorism. The provisions of the Omnibus Election Code relative If. the Barangay and SK Officials More in point is Section 45 of the Omnibus Election Code ("Section 45") which specifically Petitioners contend that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in directing the DILG to deals with the election of barangay officials. and. not mandatory. The second must be determined in the light of the peculiar problems which COMELEC claims it will encounter with the holding of a second special circumstances of a case. suspended or which resulted in the failure to elect. the date of the election not held. – All incumbent barangay officials and sangguniang kabataan officials equal opportunity to be heard. – When for any serious cause such as violence. election in any barangay has not been held on the date herein fixed or has been suspended RA 9164 is now the law that fixes the date of barangay and SK elections." (Emphasis supplied) extraordinary efforts.] it should not be be held "in all cases not later than ninety (90) days from the date of all the original later than thirty (30) days after the cessation of the cause of the postponement or election. upon a verified petition of an Act No. 6. Postponement or failure of election. 45. coordination and cooperation among its cessation of the cause of the postponement. on account of force majeure.

3rd Marine Brigade. Tolentino. Jr. problem was caused by misalignment of the ovals opposite the names of candidates in the The foregoing is a clear evidence that the automated machine (scanner) cannot be relied local ballots. Those who insisted on an "shall continue to hold office until their successors shall have been elected and qualified. 6 On the same day. their discovery that the election returns generated after the last ballots for a precinct is 1997 prescribing the adoption of an automated election system. Armina Akmad.m. 1. Sulu. 2 municipalities of this province. The voting in Sulu was relatively peaceful and orderly. Jr. If such happened in the Municipality of printing of the local ballots. of May 12.21 cases of extreme necessity justify the Reports that the automated counting of ballots in other municipalities in Sulu was not application of the hold-over principle. JIn a bid to. immediately communicated the problem to the technical experts of COMELEC and the The Pata incident can be confirmed by no less than Atty. Tapul and Jolo. The Commission on COMELEC en banc in Manila. 1998. Those who Sulu. Atty. candidate for Mayor automated counting of votes for the local officials of Sulu at the Sulu at the Sulu State under the LAKAS-NUCD-UMDP-MNLF obtains (sic) 100% votes of the total number of voters College. 1998 of Abdusakur Tan. and the councilors for the LAKAS-NUCD-UMDP. petitioner. it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Commission that an Order be issued were Brig. respondents. AFP. Also in attendance election. Tolentino. Supt. Congress enacted R. The Election Returns for the Municipality of Pata. They found nothing wrong with the automated machines.m. the use of At 12:30 p. Jose Tolentino. improve our elections. we GRANT the instant petition. 1999 suspend or stop counting of ballots through automation (sic) machines for the following TUPAY T. all in Tamparan. it is very possible that the same is happening in the counting of votes in the other read them correctly.However.20 As held in Topacio Nueno v. Mike Jupakal. among others the Provincial in the May 11. poll clerks mayoralty candidates in the municipality of Pata. Edgardo Espinosa. DISCUSSIONS That the watchers called the attention of our political leaders and candidates regarding PUNO. The resolution reads: 7 SO ORDERED. reveals that the ballots contained votes for Anton Burahan. Gen. private Wherefore. sent separate commucations to the capacity until their successors shall have been elected and qualified. The Resolution of the Commission on Elections municipalities were rejected by the automated machines. Task Force to have administrative oversight of the elections in Sulu. 3 Section 5 of RA 9164 reiterates Section 4 of RA 6679 which provides that "[A]ll incumbent The meeting discussed how the ballots in Pata should be counted in light of the misaligned barangay officials xxx shall remain in office unless sooner removed or suspended for cause ovals. or reveal the mandate of the voters: YUSOP JIKIRI. Jr. Charlemagne Alejandrino. The new system was used scanned revealed that some candidates obtained zero votes. confirmed that votes in favor of a mayoralty candidate were not reflected in Hajirul. of Pata. some election inspectors and watchers informed who actually voted. The ballots were rejected because they had the conduct a preliminary investigation of Esmael Maulay for possible commission of election wrong sequence code. COMELEC Pindolonan Moriatao Sarip. Vice-Mayor. as a consequence of which. of the same day. Angeles. Teddy Mirajuli. Section 5 of RA 9164 explicitly provides that incumbent barangay officials may Percival Subala.A. Director. LOONG. (ARMM) which includes the Province of Sulu. Jr. Head. Jose Tolentino. Province of Sulu-District II do not reflect COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and ABDUSAKUR TAN. quoted to wit: vs. He suspended the automated counting of ballots in Pata and Roldan and Lerma Amrawali to mention some. Tudanan. whose attention was called regarding the discrepancies. Jr. Atty. 8436 on December 22. intervenor. Brig. the foregoing premises considered and in the interest of an honest and orderly respondent Abdusakar Tan. Gen. Dulba Kadil. Atty. intervenor Yusop Jikiri and Kimar Tulawie. No. Tan requested for the suspension of the Elections is ordered to conduct special Barangay elections in Barangays Occidental Linuk. attended were the various candidates for governor. the automated machines failed to Pata. These municipalities were dated 8 October 2003 is declared VOIDexcept insofar as it directs its Law Department to Talipao. AFP." automated count were gubernational candidates Loong and Jikiri. Romulo the printed election returns. 98-1747 ordering a manual count but only in the municipality thirty (30) days from finality of this decision. called for an emergency meeting of the automated machines will serve as a vehicle to frustrate the will of the sovereign people of local candidates and the military-police officials overseeing the Sulu elections. Those who recommended a shift to manual count were xxx until their successors shall have been elected and qualified. namely. 5 offenses. Lanao del Sur within issued Minute Resolution No. Governor. Tolentino. on May 12. working well were received by the COMELEC Task Force. gubernational candidates Tan 6679 also states that incumbent elective barangay officials running for the same office and Tulawie and congressional candidate Bensandi Tulawie. Mayor. Petitioners have the right to remain in office as barangay chairmen in a hold-over Private respondent Tan and Atty. 1998 regular elections held in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Board Members. candidate for Municipal Mayor while the Election Return shows zero vote. automated counting of ballots throughout the Sulu province. 1998. No. There was lack of agreement. 4 office. If this will not be suspended or stopped. Provincial continue in office in a hold over capacity until their successors are elected and qualified. Atty. PNP Command and congressional candidate Bensandi Tulawie. headed the COMELEC That the top ballot.R. At about 6 a. Local ballots in five (5) WHEREFORE. New Lumbacaingud. Tolentino. however. Amkanta Tolentino. 133676 April 14. Marine forces. Rainer Talcon. to G. After the consultations. grounds. immediately suspending or stopping the use of the automated machine (scanner) in the . Some ballots picked at random by Atty. task Force suppliers of the automated machine. petitioner Tupay Loong. PNP Director Alejandro. Talub. Generals Espinosa and Subala. 1 The problem started during the That further review of the Election Return reveals that John Masillam. xxx xxx xxx In the matter of the Petition dated May 12. Still. the experts told him that the Sulu. of discrepancies between the election returns and the votes cast for the The foregoing discrepancies were likewise noted and confirmed by the chairmen. and members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) such as Rena Jawan. Siasi. Southern Philippines." Section 8 of the same RA Brig. In view of their The application of the hold-over principle preserves continuity in the transaction of official differences in opinion. Jr. The error was in the upon as to truly reflect the contents of the ballots. requested the parties to submit their written business and prevents a hiatus in government pending the assumption of a successor into position papers. Sulu.

to make available a Respectfully submitted: designated space at the PICC. To authorize the official travel of the board of canvassers concerned for the conduct of stay away from a lifeless thing that has sown tension and anxiety among and between the the automated and manual operations of the counting of votes at PICC under the close voters of Sulu. P/Supt. subject to escort/watcher for municipality to acompany the flight. BEIs with the Sulu Technical Staff. Tolentino. 98-1750 and Executive Director Resurrection Z. 2. Because of these. Sulu by C130 to Manila for purposes of both an error rate of 1: 1. Borra. directed that counting for all ballots in Sulu be stopped to enable the Commission to implementation thereof shall be done as follows: determine the problem and rectify the same. Atty. 98-1747. not a few people would believe that this error in Pata would automated and manual operations. or a show of force. Tolentino.000. the undersigned Director Borra recommends. who wanted the continuation of the The undersigned stopped the counting in the municipality of Pata since he discovered that automated counting. 98-1747 promulgated May 12. including Pat Squires of ES & S. To authorize the presence of only the duly authorized representative of the political (Sgd. Task Force Head. by Lt. viz: 12 . Lastly. Whether or not this true. Recommendation of General E. 10 The meeting was attended by the parties. 1998. Joselin Nazareno. Sulu. the COMELEC en banc issued Minute Resolution No. 12 May 1998 3. the MNLF forces are readying their forces to surround the codes assigned to another municipality (which caused the rejection of all local ballots in one venue for automated counting and canvassing in Sulu in order that the automation process precinct in Talipao). Tammang.nêt operations. 1998. Espinosa. 1998.. No. and manual operations by both the MIS and Technical Expert of the ES & S away from the 4. there will be an objective analysis and supervision of the automated 3. 1998. Two C130s were used for purpose. Benjamin Loong.V. RESOLVED to grant the Petition dated May 12. Aside from misalignment of the ovals and use of prevented. a matter printing of the ballot. please find the following: On May 15. General PM Subala. and Asani Tamang for automated count. 1998 and to Order that the counting of votes He recommended to revert to the manual counting of votes in the whole of Sulu. it would be more prudent to 2. Asani S. the NAMFREL. To transport all counting machines from Jolo. 3. with notice to all parties concerned. the resolution. and PD CS Alejandrino for warring factions. They agreed allow each political party to have at least one (1) place in Sulu where the automated counting machine failed to read the ballots. 1998 which resolved to discussed was the manner of transporting the ballots and the counting machines to the order that the counting of votes shall be done manually in the municipality of Pata. the Executive Director on the subject counting and canvassing in the municipality of Pata While the commission does not agree with the conclusions stated in the petition. the only PICC in Manila. This approach will keep the COMELEC officials away from violence and In view of the error discovered in Pata and the undersigned's order to suspend that bloodshed between the two camps who are determined to slug each other as above counting. and the public. He shall be done manually in the Municipality of PATA.counting of votes for all the eighteen (18) municipalities in the Province of Sulu and in lieu 1. Only authorized political party and candidate watchers will be 1. extend to the other municipalities. General Percival Subla. furnished the parties with copies of Minute Resolution No. With this process. parties concerned and the candidates watchers both outside and inside the perimeters of The next day. For this purpose. Tolentino. TOLENTINO. the only place in Sulu where the attached the stand of Congressman Tulawie. banc his report and recommendation. COMELEC issued Resolution No. Borra. manual count. Charlemagne Before midnight of May 12. that while he supports Minute Resolution No. the venue at PICC. Gen. Atty.1âwphi1. That all the counting machines from Jolo. media. The Resolution reads: 9 called for another meeting the next day. it will be directly under the close supervision and control of Commission on Additional marines have been deployed at the SSC. 2. and the due to the errors of the counting of votes by the machine brought about by the error in the failure of the machine to read votes may have been occasioned by other factors. JR. It is submitted that stopping the counting is 1. The undersigned is not sure if it is Elections En Banc. Tolentino. Sulu be transported back by C130 to Manila and more in consonance with the Commission's mandate than proceeding with an automated be located at the available space at PICC for purposes of both automated and manual but inaccurate count. Verification While the forces of AFP are ready to provide arm (sic) security to our Comelec officials. who are candidates for Governor and Province of Sulu. the Commission. the political tensions and imminent violence and bloodshed may not be errors is the way the ballot was printed. reveals that the cause of the and other deputies. supervision and control of the Commission En Banc. votes for a candidate for mayor was credited in favor of the other candidate. Handwritten Memo of Director Jose M. error messages appeared on the screen although the actual condition will continue. both inside and outside the perimeters of the venue at counting and canvassing. Mr. 11 notice to all parties concerned. of the ballots would have shown a different message. merely intended to tame a disorderly crowd. Unsigned letter dated May 12. counting be done through the usual way known tested by us. Especially In connection with Min. pertinent portion of which is quoted as follows: then Chief of the AFP Southern Command. Res. inside and outside SSC. PICC. to avoid delay. and thundering mortars and the sounds of sophisticated heavy weapons from both sides of the 5. subject to notice to all parties concerned. Jr. as per report received. MNLF Position for automated count. causing misalignment of ovals and use of codes assigned to another that requires immediate investigation. municipality. The position paper of former Governor Tupay Loong. May 13. the following documents were submitted to him. 98-1750 approving. mentioned in Jolo. RESOLVED: It is submitted that since an error was discovered in a machine which is supposed to have 1. 98-1796 laying down the rules for the manual count. Jr. 1998 submitted by Congressman Tulawie for manual allowed in PICC with proper security.'s recommendation and the manner of its implementation as suggested by Atty. Sulu. urging the use of the manual count in the entire Benjamin Loong and Mr.) JOSE M. Petition of Governor Sakur Tan for manual counting. was able to send to the COMELEC en Alejandrino for manual counting. May 14. addressed to thereof. Governor Sakur Tan and recommendation of automated machine failed to read the ballots. but in the public interest. Jr. Position paper of Tupay Loong. Jr.000. viz: 8 Congressman of 1st and 2nd Districts respectively. Brigadier General Edgardo Espinosa. to discuss the implementation of In the matter of the Memorandum dated 13 May 1998 of Executive Director Resurrection Z.

Automated counting of the national ballots considering that there are no questions raised Nonetheless. 98-1747. Mamasapunod M. In the automated counting there is no 4. Sulu. Teresita Velasco the usually dilatory moves in a pre-proclamation controversy because the returns and Ms. had approached the watchers of petitioners Ms. 98-1796. Commissioner-In-Charge. Erlinda C. it is most especially prayed of the Honorable Court that: 6. [preparation of the election returns and MBC. Theresa A. the following are hereby respectfully counting has already started. (c) manual counting gave Ms. Nelly Jaena certificates of canvass are already human (sic) made. Tolentino. The counting machines in the other municipalities are in order. Carmen Llamas the ballots to be manually counted. Celia Romero (b) The opportunity to substitute the ballots all stored at the PICC. Municipal Boards of Canvassers of the whole province with two members composed of Petitioner then prayed: Directors Estrella P. Sulu. Zenaida S. this petition be given due course and the respondents be required to answer. fake and counterfeit ballots which the b) Director Ester L. Sulu. Tolentino. and 98-1798 without prior notice and hearing to him. Where the machines are allegedly defective. ballot boxes. May 18. In fact. (b) a) Atty. Task Force Head. who recommended to c) Atty. 1998. No. 13. e) Director Estrella P. room for any dilatory pre-proclamation controversy because the returns and the MBC and 5. 1998. as well as the arrival of the Municipal Board of Canvassers of that only genuine official ballots could be read and counted by the machine. serve as basis for the proclamation of the winning candidates and for future reference on 15. Jr. a temporary restraining order be issued enjoining the authorized to appoint their own watchers upon approval of the Commission'. In fact. On May 25. WHEREFORE. 1998 be all declared null and void ab initio for having been issued without the use of the automated counting machine.194 precincts." namely: Ms. said Municipality in Sulu. the automated Technical Committee of this Commission. the manipulators are given sufficient time to change and tamper Ms. under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Esperanza Nicolas (a) The counting by human hands of the tampered. The creation of the following Special Boards of Inspectors under the supervision of Atty. 1998. 2. after due hearing.A. He contended that: (a) COMELEC issued Minute Jose M. and in view of the arrival of the counting the Comelec. and after conference with some members of the Senior Staff and 4. municipalities of Sulu as a final guidance of the reliability of the counting machine which will 3. The political parties and the candidates in Sulu as well as the Party-List Candidates are 1. the winning candidates of the Province of Sulu be proclaimed on the basis of the results No. There are strong indications that in the municipality of Pata the ballots of the said Borra. Jr. proclaim the winning candidates on the basis of the automated counting and consolidation RESOLVED. 2. de Mesa and Ester L. petitioner filed his objection to Minute Resolution No. Act 8436). Manual counting is prohibited by law. The minute resolution under agenda No. The automated counting machines of the Comelec have been designed in such a way of Sulu now stored in PICC. d) Atty. documents and other election paraphernalia for the whole province 3. automated election returns. manual counting. 98-1750. Aguam the order for manual counting violated R. the questioned COMELEC En Banc Minute Resolutions of May 12. COMELEC from conducting a manual counting of the ballots of the 1. Villaflor-Roxas. Atty. Manual counting of the local ballots of the automated election system in Pata. upon filing of this petition. 98-1796 violates the provisions of Republic Act 4. saying "tayo.. COMELEC started the manual count on the same date.194 precincts of the 18 RESOLVED to approve the foregoing recommendations in the implementation of Min. Ma. moreover. 8436. jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction and for On May 18." Ma.In the matter of the Memorandum dated 15 May 1998 of Executive Director Resurrection Z. Gorospe. 98-1750 promulgated 13 May 1998 and/or the texture of the ballots fed to the counting machine are not the official ballots of in the manual counting of votes of Pata. no less than the Ms. to conduct a parallel manual counting on all 18 2. on the National Elective Officials as pre-printed in the mark-sensed ballots. Villaflor-Roxas counting machines have been programmed to reject (Section 7. Rebecca Macaraya head of the COMELEC Task Force of Sulu. machines. Additional Special Board of Inspectors may be created when necessary. tayo lang mga watchers. The automated counting is mandatory and could not be substituted by a certificates of canvass. quoted to wit: municipality were rejected by the counting machine because the ballots were tampered In the implementation of COMELEC Min. The Provincial Board of Canvassers which by standing Resolution is headed by the Task PBC certificates of canvass are machine made and immediate proclamation is ordained Force Sulu Head shall consolidate the manual and automated results as submitted by the thereafter. Jose M. namely: Resolution Nos. 1. the only remedy provided for xxx xxx xxx by law is to replace the machine. Ms. . Sulu. Torralba count the 1. Manolo B. of results. 8 & 9 of Rep. automated MBC and PBC Muslim Mindanao. Resolution No. 8436 providing for an automated counting of the ballots in the Autonomous Region in of the automated counting. considering the recommendation of Comm. There is no legal basis for the "parallel manual 1. The automated counting in the municipalities of Lugus and recommended: Panglima Tahil has been completed. municipalities of the Province of Sulu but instead proceed with the automated counting of Resolution No. Soriano the COMELEC the anomalous manual counting. 98-1750 promulgated on 13 May 1998 providing for the manual counting of the ballots. pag-usapan natin. Jocelyn Guiang to allow the retrival of the ballots. and 17. PBC certificates of canvass and votes in the municipality of Pata. Echavia (c) With the creation by the COMELEC of only 22 Boards of Election Inspectors to manually Ms. counting" ordained in the disputed minute resolution. Gloria Fernandez "opportunity to the following election cheatings. de Mesa (d) There is the opportunity of delaying the proclamation of the winning candidates through Ms. ARMM. petitioner filed with this Court a petition for certiorari and prohibition 3. Jacelyn Tan clearly indicating overtures of possible bribery of the watchers of petitioner (ANNEX E). viz: 13 being in violation of due process of law.

capricious or whimsical. not a few people would believe that this error in Pata would have interpreted this provision to mean final orders. . the petition." We an error rate of 1:1. in the records that the local ballots in these five (5) municipalities are dissimilar which could 2. Indanan. . is whether the COMELEC committed grave manual counting to preserve peace and order. It is adjudicatory of the right of not be prevented. All 1. stated: We shall resolve the issues in seriatim. Siasi. the Court It is plain that to continue with the automated count in these five (5) municipalities would heard the parties in oral argument 18 which was followed by the submission of their written result in a grossly erroneous count. Siasi. Assuming the manual count is illegal and that its result is unreliable. machines. No. obtained zero votes military and police forces in maintaining peace and order throughout the province of Sulu.573 votes. . The post election realities on ground will show that the order for a manual Commanding General. They traced the problem to the printing of local ballots by he National a motion for intervention and a Memorandum in Intervention. Alejandrino. Charlemagne S. xxx xxx xxx First. he alleged denial of ovals of the local ballots were misaligned and could not be read correctly by the automated due process.c. 1998. b. 1998. 1998. Director. It is well established that the automated machines failed to read correctly the ballots in of the political parties involved in the electoral process but also serve the interest of the the municipality of Pata. the private respondents and the intervenor to the position of governor of surround the venue for automated counting and canvassing in Sulu in order that Sulu. These failures of automated counting created post election tension in Sulu. the COMELEC dated May 12. any merely intended to tame a disorderly crowd inside and outside SSC. (5) municipalities will affect the local elections in Sulu. as per report received. There was no need for more The issues for resolution are the following: sampling of locals ballots in these municipalities as they suffered from the same defects.000. whether or not it is evidence of this fragile peace and order cannot be downgraded. Assuming the appropriateness of the remedy. No. it would be more prudent to powers. 3rd Marine Brigade. Is there a legal basis for the manual count? justify the call for their greater sampling. COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it ordered a manual count of the 1998 Sulu Executive Director Resurreccion Z. Subala. this Court. Siasi. 19 Contrariwise. Talipao. Marine Forces Southern Philippines. 8436 on Memorandum to the COMELEC likewise stated: automated election in relation to the broad power of the COMELEC under Section 2(1).. Whether or not a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court local ballots in Pata with misaligned ovals will be erroneously read by the automated is the appropriate remedy to invalidate the disputed COMELEC resolutions. Task Force Head. ARMM in his May 13. The main issue in the case at bar is whether the voters of Sulu. Espinosa. Are its factual bases reasonable? Third. a 2. whether or not COMELEC committed grave sequence codes are certain to be rejected by the automated machines. Another candidate garnered 100% of the votes. Whether or not this is true. Jr. administrative orders of the COMELEC are not. 8436. fit stay away from a lifeless thing that has shown tension and anxiety among and between the subjects of a petition for certiorari. 1998 local elections. These flaws in the automated counting of local ballots in the municipalities of Pata. the military and the police authorities unanimously recommended Second. Yusop Jikiri. Anton Burahan. this Court required the respondents to file their Comment to the petition local ballots in the municipalities of Pata. Gen. Gen. Percival M. Provincial count cannot be characterized as arbitrary. Edgardo V. will not only serve the interest of majority a.452 votes or a difference of 8. All of them found nothing wrong the On August 20. These are enough considerations to call for an exercise of the certiorari jurisdiction of automation process will continue. There is no showing abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in ordering a manual count.b. A resolution of the issue will involve an interpretation of R. as a general rule.a. Atty. one of first impression. and Supt.993 votes and placed second. lack of factual basis of the COMELEC resolutions and illegality of manual count machines. 8436. Siasi. In his handwritten report to proper to call for a special election for the position of governor of Sulu. 17 A similar petition for turned out that the local ballots contained the wrong sequence code. Similarly. 14 Private respondents garnered 43. It cannot also be gainsaid that the count in these five memoranda. decision. No. were programmed to be rejected by the automated machines. 1998. Were the petitioner and the intervenor denied due process by the COMELEC when it province with a history of violent elections. third with 35. COMELEC and the supplier of the automated machines. of R. The big issue. a candidate for vice-governor. abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it ordered a manual count in light Commanding General. Brig.A. Tolentino. In the case of the municipalities of Talipao. A mayoralty candidate. It is likewise conceded that the automated machines rejected and would not count the On June 23. private respondents Tan was proclaimed governor-elect of Sulu on the despite the representations of the Chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors and others basis of the manual count. xxx xxx xxx Article IX(C) of the Constitution "to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative While the forces of AFP are ready to provide arm (sic) security to our COMELEC officials. COMELEC had to act desively in view of the fast ordered a manual count? deteriorating peace and order situation caused by the delay in the counting of votes. on October 7." 15 The vice-governor elect was allowed to temporarily discharge the powers Talipao. Tapal and Jolo." . to the conduct of an election . Section 7. In due time. Indanan. Indanan. 1998. Tapal and Jolo. The Court noted his intervention. Sulu PNP Command explained that it". 2. Article IX (A) Additional marines have been deployed at the SSC. the parties filed their respective Comments. Ballots with the wrong sequence code 1998 was denied as it was filed too late.121 votes. Petitioner was that they voted for him.A. The 3. Tapal and Jolo were carefully analyzed by the technical experts of and functions of governor. Similarly. Tapal and Jolo with wrong 2. On September 25.A. or a show of force. Mr. 16 The result of the manual Printing Office.On June 8. Borra. the political tensions and imminent violence and bloodshed may undoubtedly suffered with significance to the entire nation." The issue is not only legal but one of first impression and BEI's and other deputies. assigned a sequence code as a security measure. In the case of the of the municipality of Pata. Brig. order or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court It is submitted that since an error was discovered in a machine which is supposed to have on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof. the LAKAS-NUCD-UMDP-MNLF candidate for governor filed automated machines. all local ballots in Talipao. Each municipality was intervention filed by Abdulwahid Sahidulla. it in light of R.000. . Indanan. We hold that certiorari is the proper remedy of the petitioner. rulings and decisions of the extend to the other municipalities. it was discovered that the count showed he received 38. and directed the parties "to maintain the status quo prevailing at the time of the filing of c. the MNLF forces are readying their forces to the petitioner. The undersigned is not sure if it is of the 1987 Constitution states that "unless provided by this Constitution or by law. Last but not the least.

A extent of the error in the ballot printing process before proceeding with the automated machine is then assigned a specific "sequence code" as one of the security features to counting. rejected ballots. Edgardo Espinoza In the case of "misaligned ovals". Technical experts of the supplier based in Manila were informed of the problem and after Upon consultation with the technical staff. Tahil and still result in the same erroneous count. on or about 11:45 a. Congressional Candidate Bensaudi Tulawie On or about 6:00 a. ordered the suspension of the counting of all ballots in the "sequence code" assigned to another machine/municipality. Provincial Dir. however. We quote the Tolentino memorandum. the TF Head presided over a conference at Camp General Bautista rejection of ballots is the use of wrong "sequence code". since the operators were not aware that one of the reasons for On or about 12:30 p. they failed to determine whether (3rd Marine Brigade) to discuss the process by which the will of the electorate could be the cause for rejection of ballots for said municipalities was the same as that for the determined.m. Gubernatorial Candidate Tupay Loong elections. Brig. Apandami and K.m. A municipality is assigned a specific (except for Jolo. 1. and sharing of one (1) machine by two (2) municipalities. it was discovered that in the Municipality of numerous consultations through long distance calls. Brig. In the The TF Head returned to the counting center at the Sulu State College and called his meantime. Gubernatorial Candidate Abdusakur Tan Tolentino memorandum clearly shows that they were given every opportunity to oppose the LAKAS-NUCD Tan Wing manual in count of the local ballots in Sulu. and thereafter proceed with automated counting. such as "sequence code". technical error. detect whether the ballots passing through it are genuine. the technical experts concluded that Talipao.. Brig. We also find that petitioner Loong and intervenor Jikiri were not denied process. 5. However. 1998. Southern Philippines. the counting of the ballots for the other municipalities proceeded under the technical staff to determine the extent of the technical error and to enable him to submit automated system. no error was found. the COMELEC Sulu Task Force Head (TF Head) proceeded to the room where the Those in favor of a manual count were: counting machine assigned to the municipality of Pata was installed to verify the cause of 1. Indanan. that the ovals opposite the names of the candidates the NPO during the printing process. Gen. Percival Subala oval is misaligned or not placed in its proper position. inform them of the technical error. a 3rd Marine Brigade travesty of the sovereignty of the electorate. Present during the meeting were: municipality of Talipao. such as Siasi. Its aftermath could have been a bloodbath. namely. H. Briefly. all of the above parties verbally advanced their respective positions. Gubernatorial Candidate Tupay Loong official ballots. Thus. Pata and Tongkil and Panamao and Lugus). since the 2. rectify the same. the machine will credit the shaded . Brig. and find solutions to the Other municipalities. Gubernatorial Candidate Yusop Jikiri were credited in favor of his opponent. College. Since a counting machine is To avoid a situation where proceeding with automation will result in an erroneous count. the TF Head discovered that votes cast in favor of a mayoralty candidate 2. the TF Head suspended the counting of all ballots for so that the same map be forwarded to the Commission en banc. even if said ballots were province to enable him to call a meeting with the heads of the political parties which fielded genuine will be rejected by the machine. As regards the ballots for national positions. They later submitted 6. which assigned two (2) machines from other municipalities to count the ballots of the municipality of Pata would machines. the security features. Gen. some of the local ballots were rejected by the machine. are present in the ballot. Edgardo Espinoza the commotion therein. the counting machine will not reject the ballot because all Marine Forces. the appropriate recommendation to the Commission en banc. Gen. Verification showed that the cause of the error was in the manner the ballots for local positions were printed by the while the ballots were genuine. It would Sulu PNP Command be the height of irony if the Court condemns COMELEC for aborting violence in the Sulu 4. Gubernatorial Candidate Kimar Tulawie beginning to end. They were orally heard. Gubernatorial Candidate Kimar Tulawie The members of the BEI complained that their votes were not reflected in the printout of 6. Charlemagne Alejandrino Inspectors (BEI) and watchers present in said room stated that the counting machine 4. ballots which bear a TF Head. viz: LAMMP xxx xxx xxx 8. candidates in the province. 3. together with the said municipality to enable COMELEC field technicians to determine the cause of the recommendations of the TF Head. it was obvious that the use of counting a ballot. Gubernatorial Candidate Abdusakur Tan assigned to the municipality of Pata did not reflect the true results of the voting thereat. Their watchers observed the manual count from 7. Congressional Candidate Bensaudi Tulawie the election returns since per election returns of their precincts. it was found necessary to determine the Maimbung. of May 12. the candidate they voted and those in favor of an automated count were: for obtained "zero". Provincial Dir. The 5.An automated count of the local votes in Sulu would have resulted in a wrong count. were not properly aligned. 2. Their representatives escorted the transfer of the ballots and the LAKAS-NUCD Tan Wing automated machines from Sulu to Manila. Caluang. ballot paper bearing a wrong "sequence code" was used by National Printing Office (NPO). Said parties were then requested by the TF Head to submit their respective position papers In his attempt to remedy the situation. while automated counting of all the ballots for the LAMMP province of Sulu was being conducted at the counting center located at the Sulu State During said meeting. Tapul and Jolo also had the same problem of problem. the programmed to read the specific "sequence code" assigned to it. the members of the Board of Election 3. Percival Subala During the interview conducted by the TF Head. the following is the manner by which a "sequence code" determined genuineness of Since the problem was not machine-related. Charlemagne Alejandrino COMELEC avoided this imminent probality by ordering a manual count of the votes. After verifying the printout of some election returns as against the 1. Gen. namely.P. LAKAS-NUCD Loong Wing Fourth.m. Gubernatorial Candidate Yusop Jikiri written position papers.

Southern Command. The evidence is clear that the integrity of the local ballots was safeguarded when they Minute Resolution 98-1798. After the counting.oval for the position where the machine is programmed to "read" the oval. There being four parties. Panamso — Hamba Loong operations. this time. Patikul — Fathie B. P. Copies were then served through personal delivery to the Thank you. where the COMELEC was Sixth. 22 with each political party authorized to send at least one (1) escort/watcher for every In fine. the machine will credit the votes of a candidate in favor of his transfer of ballots from Sulu to PICC. including that of NAMFREL. Marunggas — Taib Mangkabong evening of May 12. Maimbong — Mike Bangahan dated May 13.) Asani S. They had fairly large ovals opposite Two C130s left Sulu on May 15. then AFP Commander. election pharaphernalia to be transported to COMELEC. Brig. was of the belief that it would be more prudent to 2. 1. it issued special rules on the same day. Talipao — Ismael Sali Minute Resolution No. Tolentino. Loong count the ballots manually than to proceed with an automated system which will result in 3. heads of the political parties. 13. Said recommendations and position 14. 1998. five (5) meters away form the ballot boxes. and 11. the procedure more escorted the return of the ballot boxes to by which the ballots and counting machines were to be transported to Manila was finalized.. 1998 at 9:00 o'clock in the morning. K. Indeed. The rules were spelled out in Fifth. Lakas-NUCD Loong Wing (Annex "4"). They watched 24 hours a day and slept at the On May 14. Nazareno. among other things. 12. 1998 (Annex "7"). with all escorts/watchers allowed to station themselves at the ballot box as the counting involved a different kind of ballot. 1998. The ballots were uncomplicated. media and the public. together with his handwritten recommendation to proceed with a 10. or in the adjacent space where the oval should be properly placed.) Tupay T. public schools of Pasay City where the ballots were counted. Pangutaran — Hji. viz: 23 were transferred from Sulu to Manila and when they were manually counted. PICC. Attached is a copy of (sgd. the TF Head presided over said conference in the presence of the heads PICC. Attached are copies of the recommendations of the TF Head (Annex "1"). The watchers stationed themselves some "8-D"). they once After hearing the sides of all parties concerned. 1998 to transport all the ballot boxes and counting the names of candidates. Tammang said notice (Annex "8") bearing the signatures of candidates Tan (Annex "8-A") and Loong The ballot boxes were consistently under the watchful eyes of the parties representatives. the evening of May 13. center at the Sulu State College to the Sulu Airport to the PICC. more simple ballots. Estino — Yasir Ibba counting machines be transported by C130 to Manila for both automated and manual 17. Jolo — Joseph Lu upon consultation with his technical staff. The Omnibus storage area. Borra. Gen. Kaluang — Enjimar Abam the Commission shall have resolved the petition/position papers to be submitted by the 6. albeit. Tolentino: Board of Election Inspectors of the Municipality of Pata complained that their votes were not Submitted herewith are the names of escort(s) to accompany the ballot boxes and other reflected in the printout of the election results. another C130 left Sulu to ferry the members of the board of Election Code rules on appreciation of ballots cannot apply for they only apply to elections canvassers. Jr. 21 of the political parties of Sulu. the TF Head. Pata — Marvin Hassan parties. Tongkil — Usman Sahidulla LAKAS-NUCD Tan Wing Annex (Annex "3"). Loong General Joselin Nazareno.viz: 20 their official ballots since the "misaligned ovals" were discovered only after members of the Dear Atty. 8. On May 17. Nasser Loong Upon receipt of the position papers of the parties. Lugus — Patta Alih papers were the bases for the promulgation of COMELEC Minute Resolution No. with Lt. representatives of the political parties escorted the rejecting the ballot. with notice to them that another conference will be conducted Very truly yours. The TF Head and his staff returned to Camp General Bautista to await the 7. (Annex "8-B") and the representatives of candidates Tulawie (Annex "8-C") and Jikiri (Annex They were placed in an open space at the PICC. in his May 14. representatives of the NAMFREL. Said ballots boxes reached the PICC candidate. 4. Indanan — Dixon Jadi an erroneous count. A voter needed only to check the oval opposite the name of his machines. at the 3rd Marine Brigade on May 14. that the ballots and 16. Thus. including Lt. Subala. petitioner's charge that the ballots could have been tampered with before the municipality to accompany the ballot boxes and counting machines from the counting manual counting is totally unfounded. 1992 letter to Atty. the TF Head faxed the same in the 9. Manila. The evidence also reveals that the result of the manual count is reliable. directing. Tapul — Alphawanis Tupay NUCD-MNLF Wing (Annex "5") and LAMMP (Annex "6"). LAKAS. 18. 1998. to wit: As the extent or coverage of the technical errors could not be determined. 1998. Parang — Siyang Loong submission of the position papers of the parties concerned. a total of seventy-two (72) It bears stressing that the ballots used in the case at bar were specially made to suit an escorts/watchers accompanied the ballots and counting machines. The parties' watchers again accompanied the transfer of the ballot boxes from PICC to the Gen. When the COMELEC ordered a manual count of the votes. petitioner Tupay Loong himself submitted the names of his representative who would It could not be determined if the other municipalities also had the same technical error in company the ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia. accompanied by all the authorized escorts. instead of A shown by the Tolentino memorandum. 98-1750 was received by the TF Head through fax on or about 5:30 in Hoping for your kind and (sic) consideration for approval on this matter. In the matter of the Memorandum dated 17 May 1998 of Executive Director Resurreccion Z. then conducting its Senatariol Canvass. together with their counsel. where the names of candidates are handwritten in the ballots. 98-1750 15. Luuk — Jun Arbison manual count. opponent. automated election. Siasi — Jamal Ismael The TF Head thus ordered the indefinite suspension of counting of ballots until such time as 5. Pandami — Orkan Osman the position papers of the Philippine Marines and Philippine National Police (Annex "2"). (Sgd. reprocedure of the counting of votes for Sulu for the convening of the Board of .

24 viz: with the number of votes who actually voted as stated in the Minutes of Voting: a) Atty. Celia Romero in the envelope for excess ballots. Tolentino. Tramo Street. 1. Maimbung. Rebecca Macaraya II. the poll clerk shall b) Director Ester L. be counted in favor of any candidate. petitioner did not complain that the 4. The BEI shall accomplish the certification portion of the election returns and announce 5. Five (5) elementary schools served as the venues of the 1. The said returns shall then be placed in corresponding envelopes for distribution. Jocelyn Tan for counted ballots. Indanan. National Ballots The correctness of the manual count cannot therefore be doubted. the results. the MO shall load all the diskettes used in the Petitioner did not object to the rules on manual count on the ground that the ballots cannot scanner to the ERs. The machine Lugus. If the national ballots have not yet been counted. operator shall then save the results in a diskette and print out the election returns for 4. the petition for intervention. The 600 public school municipality and statement of votes by precinct. Common Provisions: RESOLVED. the manual counting was done with the watchers of the parties 5. viz: 25 2. Gotamco Elementary School. reseal and place the envelope inside the ballot box. National Ballots: Ms. Let the Executive Director implement this resolution. Palma Elementary School — for the municipalities of Siasi and Kalingalang Caluang. Talipao. As private respondent Tan alleged. Aguam If there is no Minutes of Voting. be manually counted. RESOLVED to approve the following procedure for the counting of votes for Sulu at the PICC: 2. Open the ballot box. 3. G1oria Fernandez determine the number of voters who actually voted. Ms. return the same inside the envelope Ma. Return all pertinent election documents and paraphernalia inside the ballot box. and Tapul. Villaflor-Roxas draw out as many local and national ballots as may be equal to the excess and place them Ms. Burgos Elementary School. the manual count could not have been manipulated in his favor because the results shows that most of his political opponents won. counting. at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). Pasay City — for the municipalities of simultaneously accomplish the election returns and the tally board respectively. From beginning to end. Canvassers. e) Director Estrella P. Zamora Elementary School. and return the Ms. Group the local ballots in piles of fifty (50). concerned in attendance. Gotamco Street. Segregate the national ballots from the local ballots. moreover that the pertinent provisions of COMELEC Resolution Nos. After the consolidation. 4. 2971 and 1. The Chairman shall read the votes while the poll clerk and the third member shall 1. Local Ballots This is not all. Erlinda C. Ms. the certificates of canvass were prepared and signed 6. Counting of Votes c) Atty. in his original Petition. the Municipal Board of Canvassers and the Provincial Board on May 18. The consolidation of votes shall be done manually by the Provincial/Municipal Board of 1998 at 9:00 a. Consolidation of Results Secretary. envelope containing the counted ballots as the case may be. Torralba the envelope through a liaison officer to the machine operator concerned for counting and Ms. more imagined than real. Pasay City — for the municipalities of Jolo. Teresita Velasco same to the members of the BEI concerned for their signatures and thumbmarks. Panamao. They were also signed by the parties' watchers. Pangutaran. .m. Later. Pasay City — for the municipalities of Parang. the COMELEC utilized the services of 600 public school teachers from Pasay City to do B. de Mesa 3. After all the local ballots shall have been manually counted. As aforestated. The proclamation of winning candidates shall be based manual consolidation. Soriano A. Jr. If the national ballots have already been counted. To consolidate the provincial results. refer to the Voting Records at the back of the VRRs to Ms. the same shall be given to 3. Teresa A. local ballots could not be counted by a layman. There was no need for 1. Ms. Local Ballots: the manual counting. Vice-Chairman. The results of the counting for the national ballots for each municipality shall be an expert to count the votes. retrieve the Minutes of Voting and the uncounted ballots or the 3030 shall apply. to 3. Tongkil. Indeed. In case there is system failure in the counting and/or consolidation of the results. Zamora Street. five (5) Special Boards were initially created under Atty. Zenaida S. no vote shall 2. The naked eye could see the checkmarks opposite the big consolidated by using the ERs of the automated election system. by the City/Municipal Board of Canvassers composed of the Chairman. Ma. teachers of Pasay City had no difficulty. Panglima Estino. Epifanio Elementary School. The 2. Indeed. d) Atty. Place the election returns in their respective envelopes and distribute them accordingly. B. I. Mamasapunod M. 26 A. ovals. Pasay City — for the municipalities of Luuk and COMELEC reference. the machine operator concerned for counting by the scanning machine. Echavia 2. Esperanza Nicolas If there are more ballots than the number of voters who actually voted. Count the number of pieces of both the national and local ballots and compare the same undertake the manual counting.Election Inspectors. The MO shall print the provincial certificate of canvass and the SOV by municipality. Thereafter. The machine operator shall affix his signature and thumbmark thereon. the Machine Operator shall print the certificate of canvass by COMELEC representatives had no difficulty counting the votes. Nelly Jaena 4. place them inside an envelope and give Ms. 2. The watchers of the parties had no difficulty. If the voters shaded more ovals than the number of positions to be voted for. and III. Jocelyn Guiang 1. The allegation that it will take a trained eye to read the ballots is POBC/MOBC shall revert to manual consolidation. Panglima Tahil. nobody complained that the votes could not be read and counted. Burgos Street. 3. Carmen Llamas printing of the election returns. Neither did the intervenor complain in his 5.

Congress obviously failed to provide a remedy where the declaration of failure of elections and the calling of special elections as provided in Sections error in counting is not machine-related for human foresight is not all-seeing. Failure of election. petitioner did not pray for a special election. R. the COMELEC order for a manual count was not reasonable. plebiscite. Too late in the day and too unprocedural. In enacting R. on account of force majeure. engage in a swivel chair criticism of these actions often Seventh. Commission shall on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due or when the computer fails to consolidate election results/reports or fails to print election notice and hearing. experience in dealing with political controversies. The Commission on Elections. Section 9 of R. Too often. Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code should be read in relation to Section 4 of to state. the plea for a special election must be addressed to the COMELEC and not to wrong sequence codes in the local ballots. The errors were not machine-related.. taken under very difficult circumstances.A. We further hold that petitioner cannot insist on automated counting under R. and political questions must be dealt with realistically — not Worse. orderly. fraud or other analogous election. terrorism. power "to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an The grounds for failure of election — force majeure. because of its fact-finding Sulu were able to cast their votes freely and fairly. Siasi. In the matter of the administration of laws relative to the conduct of officials in Sulu have been proclaimed and are now discharging their powers and duties. In running for public mayors were identified with respondent Tan. fraud. two (2) were won by the camp of which is under the control and supervision of the COMELEC. we cannot order a special election 8436 after the machines misread or rejected the local ballots in five (5) municipalities in unless demanded by exceptional circumstances. No. two (2) congressmen.A. It ought to be self-evident that respondent Tan. 8436. 4. Politics is a practical matter. .nêt be debatable. There are no ready made formulas for solving public special election only for the position of Governor will be discriminatory and will violate the problems. 8436 did not prohibit manual counting when Asani Tammang of the LAKAS-Loong Wing for the 2nd District. No. this Court has not been niggardly in defining the parameters of powers of Even his original petition with this Court. and its knowledge derived from actual albeit manually. suspended results-reports after consolidation. a vice-governor. and in any of such There is a systems breakdown in the counting center when the machine fails to read the cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election. 8436. is in a peculiarly advantageous position to There is another reason why a special election cannot be ordered by this Court. 27 There is logic to private snap judgments to meet unforeseen circumstances that threaten to subvert the will of our respondent Tan's contention that if the manual count was tampered. honest. two (2) with LAMMP and one (1) with REPORMA. four (4) with petitioner Loong. its contacts with political strategists. Panlalawigan and eighteen (18) mayors. it was inutile for the COMELEC to use other machines to count the local cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect. call for the holding or continuation of the election. We cannot. Postponement. numerous vice-mayors and municipal councilors In the case at bar. the plea for this Court to call a Sulu. The records show that all elected good government. or other Commission En Banc or any of its divisions. It is for this reason that they can only be this provision is to give COMELEC all the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve determined by the COMELEC en bancafter due notice and hearing to the parties. "the official results show that the two congressional seats in Sulu were won by the voters of Sulu was honestly determined.1âwphi1. indeed. Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code tells us when there of all assigned machines in the counting center. It was the are now serving in their official capacities. such election results in a failure to elect. their assumption of Tudanan. . 5. analogous causes. Our elections are not conducted under laboratory conditions. In the provincial level. We cannot kick away the will of the people by Congressman Hussin Amin of the LAKAS-MNLF Wing for the 1st District and Congressman giving a literal interpretation to R. eight (8) members of the Sangguniang Elections the initiative which by constitutional and legal mandates properly belongs to it. COMELEC: 28 plea for a special election is a mere afterthought. . Eighth. Systems Breakdown in the Counting Center. No. candidates do not follow the rules of Emily Post. (1) by LAMMP. the actions of COMELEC may not be impeccable. Counting is part and parcel of the conduct of an election eight (8) seats for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. initiative. and one the Constitution did not envision a COMELEC that cannot count the result of an election.Thus.A. to grant petitioner's prayer to continue the machine count of the local ballots will R. the ballots or fails to store/save results or fails to print the results after it has read the ballots. If manual counting is illegal. we held in Sumulong v. The people have spoken. not held." Undoubtedly. 9. his candidates would voters. we must not by any excessive zeal take away from the Commission on Thus. 6. may even not have miserably lost. COMELEC has to make the MNLF. the Commission shall use any available is a failure of election. The bottom line is that by means of the manual count. petitioner never asked the COMELEC en banc to call for a special election in Sulu. In the process.A. viz: machine or any component thereof from another city/municipality upon approval of the Sec. — If. We hold. two (2) by the MNLF. three (3) with offices. peaceful. 7166 which provides: certainly result in an erroneous count and subvert the will of the electorate. Time and experience are necessary to evolve patterns that will serve the ends of right of private respondent to equal protection of the law. the same manually counted votes of Sulu. These officials were proclaimed on the basis of only way to count the decisive local votes in the six (6) municipalities of Pata. His COMELEC in the conduct of our elections. and credible elections. terrorism. facilities. the text and intent of causes — clearly involve questions of fact. Needless this Court. Talipao. — The postponement. election. or after the presence of representatives of political parties and citizens' arm of the Commission who voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the shall be notified by the election officer of such transfer. Their votes were counted correctly. however. The plea can only be Sec. Section 2(1) of Article IX(C) of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad occur before or after casting of votes or on the day of the election.A. The records show that the voters of from the standpoint of pure theory. Failure of Election and Special Elections. seven (7) out of eighteen (18) victorious municipal Ninth. and 7 of the Omnibus Election Code shall be decided by the Commission en banc by a however. . Thus. of the machine count does not work. or The transfer of such machines or any component thereof shall be undertaken in the had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting. custody or canvass thereof. To hold a decide complex political questions . that the vacuum in the law cannot prevent the COMELEC from levitating above majority vote of its members.A. The causes for the declaration of a failure of election may the problem. Even more. Congruent to at bar. 6. Their sovereign will has to be obeyed. In the mayoral race. votes in Sulu. or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the As the facts show. Thus. referendum and recall. the will of . No. In the case the objective of holding free. the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed. The errors in counting were due to the misprinting of ovals and the use of To begin with. Sec. the grounds for failure of election are inexistent. three (3) by the camp of petitioner Loong. this intent. Tapul and Jolo. . — In the event of a systems breakdown grounded on failure of election. 8436 provides: special election for the governorship of Sulu is completely off-line.

In violating its own Resolution ordering both an automated count and a parallel manual Our decisions have been in cadence with the movement towards empowering the COMELEC count. 34 we reiterated the guiding principle that "clean elections control the automated. even when the results are free from fraud and irregularity. either by the Constitution or by Congress. Republic Act (RA) 8436 movement. the Comelec members of the national legislature and elective provincial and city officials. Quisumbing. COMELEC was generously granted the power to "have exclusive charge of the enforcement PANGANIBAN. Please see dissenting opinion. In peremptorily stopping the ongoing automated counting of ballots in the Municipality of functions.. the majority justifies this reversion to the manual method as a valid Jikiri are dismissed.office cannot also be countenanced. It condemns COMELEC for exercising its discretion to resort to manual count explicitly mandates the Comelec to "use an automated election system .. the enforcement of our election laws. Stoppage of Automated Count Commission on Elections. elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Mendoza. A final word. The choice of means taken by the 1. 1998 elections. the poll body has no legislative power to statement but it should do everything have that sovereignty obeyed by all. . J. concur. there is absolutely no dispute that Congress required the Comelec to conduct In Pacis vs. the COMELEC was transformed to a constitutional body by virtue Separate Opinions of the 1940 amendments to the 1935 Constitution which took effect on December 2." The dissent. plebiscites. 1998 is lifted. appropriateness of the remedy. In issuing. its assailed Minute Resolutions relating to the duties. Hence. Melo. 98-1748. In counting and appreciating the automated ballots with the use of the rules peculiar to The purpose of the Revised Election Code is to protect the integrity of elections and to manual elections. Our decision merely reinforces our collective efforts to endow COMELEC with SO ORDERED. without due process of law. the Commission must be given a considerable latitude in adopting means and change in the manner and venue of counting methods that will insure the accomplishment of the great objective for which it was created Let me explain each of these grounds. hence. should not be interfered with. mayoralty candidate in said municipality were not tallied by the counting machine assigned COMELEC enforces and administers all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of to said town elections. 2. must do everything in its power to generated ones secure a fair and honest canvass of the votes cast in the elections. and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections . there being no showing that public respondent gravely abused its exercise of the Comelec's discretion to ensure a free. it would set aside the However.. 1940. It further broadened the powers of COMELEC by making violated its express and specific statutory mandate to conduct automated elections in the it the sole judge of all election contests relating to the election. C. 33 we laid down this liberal approach. honest. Buena and Gonzaga-Reyes. This reversion to the manual election system is nowhere people expressed thru the ballot is at stake. orderly. IN VIEW WHEREOF. and credible electoral . and honest elections. the Comelec abondoned the ongoing judgment of the people electing the private respondent as Governor. It would set aside the results of the manual count voting. invalid for alikes cannot be treated unalikes. Panganiban.. To begin with. Our status quo order of June 23. The power to enforce our election laws was originally vested in the President and Pardo and Santiago. . Private respondent's election cannot be singled out as discretion in issuing Minute Resolution Nos. took no part. dissenting opinion. orderly and credible elections. viz: province xxx xxx xxx 4. during the May 11. that is. Kapunan. the Comelec manually suppress all evils that may violate its purity and defeat the will of the voters. .. Vitug. it is not enough for this Court to make a authorized in the same or any other law. A quick flashback of its Davide. exercised through the Department of Interior. Purisima. Specifically. 31 In fine. Bellosillo. All contests alleged imminent danger of violence involving elective municipal and barangay officials are under its appellate jurisdiction. orderly. 2 Neither can it assume powers not granted to it always better than well said. 98-1796 and 98-1798. From a statutory creation. JJ. Clearly. COMELEC. JJ. not manual. honest. . Election contests involving regional. much less to contravene. history is necessary lest our efforts be lost in the labyrinth of time. while an executive power.J. referenda and recalls. 607 enacted on August 22. Today.. contrary to its above clear mandate. by actually holding only a manual count. not to the automated election system. 30 With due respect. without giving any reason for completely in order that it can more effectively perform its duty of safeguarding the sanctity of our abandoning the automated system which was already 65 percent complete in the entire elections. the gravely abused its discretion in the following acts: COMELEC was given judicial power aside from its traditional administrative and executive 1. unless they are clearly illegal or constitute grave abuse of Legally and Factually Flawed discretion. The COMELEC was organized under Commonwealth Act No. In Cauton vs. I dissent. J. Romero. No costs. 98-1750. for all its depth. counting of votes and canvassing/consolidation of results" 1 in the ARMM. the law. According to Dean Sinco. Jr. In changing the venue and the mode of counting from automated to manual. When the sovereignty of the with the manual system. was transferred to the COMELEC. 32 3. initiatives. Upholding the automated counting of votes in Sulu during the last elections and substituted it mid-stream sovereignty of the people is what democracy is all about.. 29 the view ultimately that an independent body could better protect the right of suffrage of our people. 1940. Worse. the results as manually appreciated substantially differed from the machine- Commission on Elections. I submit that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) blatantly Then came the 1973 Constitution. for process of when this was its only viable alternative. is out of step with this including the Province of Sulu. returns and qualifications of Province of Sulu without any adequate legal or factual bases. the petition of Tupay Loong and the petition in intervention of Yusop On the other hand. enough power to hold free. The them. The purity of tallied the ballots in a way different from how the automated machines would have counted the elections is one of the most fundamental requisites of popular government. by constitutional mandate. Well done is modify. COMELEC. due to provincial and city elective officials are under its exclusive original jurisdiction. In the performance of its 5. — to promote free. Pata and in the entire Province of Sulu on the flimsy ground that three ballots for a The 1987 Constitution quickened this trend of strengthening the COMELEC.

Tolentino to require the complaining parties to file their protests for proper Stoppage of Count action in accordance with law and the Comelec rules. the relative tranquillity of the recent. is also done separately from the counting). Private Respondent Tan. alleged he was at the time leading the count. to discard the automated system In the areas covered by the 3rd MBde. as amended by Section 20 of RA 7166. Tapul and Jolo. to allegedly patent discrepancies between the printed election returns and the the OEC. it bares insufficient. Tolentino had such authority. when without much ado. even dangerous. and Panamao. 2. he forthwith ordered a province-wide suspension of the automated must be set aside and declared null and void for having been issued with grave abuse of count. three ballot boxes fell into the sea when the pump boat election results. by her own standard. 1998. there was a minor misunderstanding election results in the municipality. well as watchers called the attention of the Comelec Task Force head in Sulu. even the alleged errors were reportedly discovered in partial candidate (Mr. election cases are heard Voting in the areas assigned to Sulu PPO was generally peaceful and orderly except for on the assumption that the protested ballots or returns would. stressing that this Court's ruling is "in cadence with the movement towards device to scuttle the automated system by the simple expedient of alleging that a few empowering the Comelec in order that it can more effectively perform its duty of ballots were improperly counted by the machine. the adversely affected of the ballots was being conducted at the Sulu State College. Intervenor Jikiri grounds. Indanan. order the suspension of the automated counting of the ballots from Pata. . Atty. were not reflected on the election return. Third. Doctrinally. There simply was no basis for it. 1998. In Indanan. 6 But there are even more odious about 65 percent of the ballots cast in Sulu were already machine-counted. it would not have taken very in the print out of results were discovered in the counting machine assigned to Pata long to finish the count for the entire municipality. Atty. which instead peaceful sans some isolated cases of mortar shelling and failure of voting in some printed zero vote for such candidate. He noticed that count were completely uncalled for. By analogy. Tolentino did not even try to get the aggregate votes cast in the municipality for each xxx xxx xxx mayoral candidate. Such holding would give losing parties and candidates a convenient reacted. Not even the between the Ahajan brothers of Brgy. Jose by analogy. candidate's remedy was an election protest. This prompted the COMELEC to order the counting to be done in Manila. he had no legal Danger of Violence authority to order even a temporary stoppage of the counting. Remedy in Cases of False Returns In any event. since verbal complaints of incorrect tallying by the machine were not a valid Comelec's actions. the assailed Comelec Minute Resolutions authorizing the manual count to misprinted ballots.m. But Atty. the day after the election. At that point. ballot boxes damaged resulting from pump boat capsizing in counting of the rest of the ballots from Pata. municipality. while the automated counting the automated system. Atty. there [was] gunfire heard in the outskirts of Tapul but neither opposing group allegedly miscounted. ordered the stoppage of the barangays of Panamao. violence erupted only in Talipao. on May 12. cavalierly and thereafter resort to manual count on the flimsy basis that a few ballots were Reportedly. as I will now show. On the spot. he candidly admitted that he had no statutory or even regulatory deteriorating peace and order situation caused by the delay in the counting of the votes. manual election system allows a suspension of the entire counting process on the mere particularly at the polling places at Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade there was a short allegation that a few ballots or votes for one candidate in one precinct are questionable. First. Panabuan but this was immediately resolved. the factual basis of his exercise of discretion was sorely or reference to any incident that would substantiate Tolentino's statement. At the time. was generally indicated in the three ballots.. viz. the same logic should apply to automated elections." I respectfully say. which were 1. There was also allegation of ballot snatching thereat and this Tolentino immediately assumed that the three ballots would be determinative of the matter is being investigated by this PPO. commotion among followers of candidates. was stopped the day after the election when inconsistency for the counting machine to process 100 to 150 ballots." It basis for his action. counted.. that such revive and use an antiquated and fraud-ridden electoral method and thus lead to a "movement" should be canalized by the proposition that the Comelec may exercise its prolonged counting and canvassing.exercise. let me delve deeper into the factual and legal antecedents which led to the and Questionable Ballots stoppage of the automated count. however. granting that was submitted to this Court by. 4 Thus. During the canvassing (which. Automated 14 more remained to be. 1998. the procedure for a pre-proclamation controversy laid down in Section 243 of Tolentino Jr. Had that recourse failed. discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. and Tongkil and failure of conducting elections in two precincts is Siasi. the very evil sought to be remedied by RA 8436. Even under the manual election system. in order to see if three or even 200 votes would spell a material SIGNIFICANT INCIDENTS difference in the result. He saw only three (3) ballots out of about 200 from a single precinct in Pata. change the some minor hitches. on the suspicionthat the printing defect was prevalent province-wide. however. The conduct of election in the province of Sulu. if only to demonstrate the utter lack of prudence in the Moreover. it would have taken only one (1) minute counting of the ballots. Tracing the error If only on this basis. Under RA 8436. Suspending and finally stopping the automated Tolentino picked out three local ballots that had already been counted. such votes were not credited Making matters worse.400 5 votes had been cast. electoral process in the province. which authority upon the election official to examine the ballots personally. if validated. Talipao. some election inspectors as parties could have objected to the inclusion of the questioned election return and followed. which showed zero (0) vote for that the 18 municipalities of Sulu. under About 6:00 a. it would be imprudent. In Jolo. Atty. Tolentino. Tolentino directed the suspension of the automated count in all in the latter's favor in the precinct election return. the aggrieved actual votes cast for the mayoralty candidates in the Municipality of Pata. 3 Second. only 13 ballot boxes had been. Tolentino then took it upon himself to immediately returns from only six (6) municipalities — Pata. reason to suspend the counting. the verbal manifestation of a BEI member or a watcher that a pays heed to the unsubstantiated report of Atty. all of Sulu. No Imminent I believe that Atty. During the Oral Argument on The ponencia justifies the Comelec's precipitate shift to manual counting "in view of the fast September 15. In Tongkil. where about 5. while they contained votes for a certain mayoralty candidate. noted that the votes for a certain mayoralty candidate. the charges made by the candidates' watchers should have Factual Antecedents of prompted Atty. carrying them capsized. Said Report makes no mention of Atty. Anton Burahan). It would give them a convenient excuse to safeguarding the sanctity of our elections. Rather. Siasi. but totally ignores the PNP vote for a certain candidate was not reflected in the election return conferred no legal provincial director's Comprehensive Report on the Sulu Election 7dated May 18. which had 27 precincts. discretion only in accordance with law and never in violation of it. Tolentino acted with grave abuse of discretion. Atty.

as reflected in the official election returns. without any under Comelec rules. the concurrence words. name has a corresponding oval which must have its own exact location on the ballot. because it could not recognize the difference between an "X" mark and any other mark on Although not expressly sanctioned by law. he use of inappropriate Rules by the BEIs necessarily begot a misappreciation of the voted for. Human handling of the peremptory issuance. This phenomenon may have been brought are inappropriate. 14 Such Please note that the Comelec.xxx xxx xxx rejection of fake or counterfeit ones. appear on record that the consent of the watchers was ever sought. but were However. because some carbon content may be left in the petition. which the voter intentionally refrained from voting for any candidate) can be easily pencil- But. not to say given. the machines are programmed to recognize or read only the the contrary. 10 which requires handwritten in the ballots. 98-1750 (dated May 13. the automated election system has peculiar features designed for electronic. the alleged imminent threat of violence did not at all justify To be more concrete and specific.. 2. there was no reason at all to completely abandon the automated count. which ordered the presence of carbon in the ovals. which could automated count first. But the machines counted the votes arbitrary action. Ballots on which the voter manually wrote the candidates' names were considered submit. except for count was conducted. 16On the other hand. Political rivalry was less intense. Even then.17 Comelec had a duty to comply with the mandate of Congress. the machine concluded that there was an "over- and inexplicably. No Justification to ballots were fed. ask for a new ballot). Hence. 4. however. pursuant to said Comelec rules. if at all. 1998. only the venue could have been changed. In some ballots. if not downright useless. If the Comelec had conducted an automated count in Manila. In other words. it simply substituted the will of Congress with its own marked ballots by some BEIs. Yet. led to a substantial difference in the election results. Unfortunately more than one oval for a single office. BEIs counted the remaining uncrossed vote. in turn." The counting machine invalidated these votes. verification. and the mechanized discrimination of genuine from spurious ballots. Inspite of theponencia's plain admission that the OEC Rules on the I would like to emphasize that the resort to a manual appreciation of the ballots is appreciation of ballots "only apply to elections where the names of the candidates are precluded by the basic features of the automated election system. in its Minute Resolution 98-1796 8 dated May 15. The pursuant to the OEC rules. considering it the voter's true and valid vote. several ovals for candidates for one office were shaded but. it ordered the air-lifting to detect only ovals with sufficient carbon content. I repeat. ASSESSMENT the boards of election inspectors (BEI) in appreciating ballots. the mere shading of an oval corresponding to the name of the candidate Indeed. Minute Resolution No. not advisable (the voter may. the extent of cheating was also less. arguably sustained. The point is: human handling of thereof. but not the method of automated ballots is fraught with dangers to the integrity of the votes therein. it actually counting. as well as ballots. To erase a vote is. Or a vote can be facilely nullified by simply marking abandonment of the automated count was definitely not a necessary legal consequence the oval of another candidate for the same office. an "over-vote" is considered "no vote. A blank ballot (in discretion. it did not explain why this counted by the BEI. and a good the appreciation and counting of ballots cast in a manual election easily discloses that they number of registered voters actually voted. as long as they were not found inside the ovals. On Under the automated system. not of the majority of the watchers for such transfer is still required under the OEC. Such misappreciation. for unstated and I 4. and those of the machine count. 9 Originally. were brought about by the following: actually resolved "to conduct a parallel manual counting [i]n all 18 municipalities of 1. Even assuming arguendo that imminent violence threatened the counting center. February 9. such parallel manual count may arguably be the oval. again amounted to an abusive exercise of automated ballots will also make it all too easy to nullify the voter's will. unexplainable reasons. the marked in favor a certain candidate." the stark fact is that such Rules were actually (and erroneously) minimum human intervention. security codes. Worse. and then a parallel manual count. and why only a manual 3. was issued ex parte by the Comelec en banc. All it could "read" was the carbon content. also crossed out or marked with an "X. . 13 there were significant discrepancies between the results of the manual Abandon Automated Count count. 1999. even granting arguendo that the transfer of the counting venue was valid. including the automated machines." Under the automated program. meaning the more number of groupings. change of venue for the counting. therein and ignored such writings. which plainly means that both automated and manual counts were to be performed. it only authorized a change of venue of several precincts in Pata and Jolo. I could have conceded the propriety of a parallel manual count — one. the use of used here. in violation of law. during the physical examination of the ballots used in the manualization of the counting process. Rules for Manual Elections Different from I could cite several other examples of why the manual count was not reflective of the Those for the Automated System machine count. to the proper appreciation and reading of the about by the fact that since there were four sets of candidates. and wherein each violence." However. The automated system takes away the discretion of 3. 1998). . Ovals that were ink-shaded were validated by the BEIs pursuant to the OEC 15 and the Sulu . Some ovals that were only partly shaded were not read by the machines. and due to the presence of carbon on regarded as falling within the residual regulatory authority of the Comelec. vital provision requiring an automated count was not implemented. the lesser is the threat of the ballots beforehand and are not handwritten by the voters themselves. Such arbitrary and oval that would still be recognized and tallied by the machine. in fact. In other situation would justify only the transfer of the counting venue. the Resolution ordering an vote. conducted pursuant to the Court's Resolution dated the automated count. To repeat. the Comelec acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction. wherein the names of the candidates are printed on were thinly distributed. . such conforming to the design that has been programmed in the counting machine. It does not manual. as well as in the operation of the counting machines to which these 3. 11 The conduct of election in Sulu was generally peaceful compared with the previous A simple cursory reading of the rules 12 laid down in the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) for elections. only a manual count was done. the use of a special quality of ballot paper. these were ignored by the machines. that may even be makes the political exercise more vulnerable to electoral fraud. its head office of all the relevant election paraphernalia. the Comelec did not obey its own Resolution. recommendation or proper investigation for said purpose. the partisan armed groups ballots used in the automated system. the automated count was simply ignored without the Comelec giving any reason therefor. it would appear that the Commission intended to conduct in Manila an Comelec rules. Clearly. pursuant to the OEC.

Tolentino had already suspended the counting in that municipality and. There is then no basis for the that same day. The President. in the election return. The will of the electorate. Besides. Estrada." appreciated in the manner the scanning machine would have counted them. expressed through the ballots. Indeed. placed in Resolution 98-1747. Only this the other candidates. The very purpose of the law was defeated by the cumbersome. the Tolentino meeting took up the Sets Back Election Modernization problems in the Municipality of Pata only. the manual "cure for electoral fraud. the BEIs had no role in the counting and canvassing. Tolentino The ultimate effect of the invalidity of the manual count and the futility of an automated convened in the early afternoon of May 12. they were not denied due process. which was prescribed as the invalidity of the manual count resulted in no count at all. we must allow the people involved count and the holding of a manual count in the entire Province of Sulu. definitely not communicated to nor required by the Commission en banc prior to its This Court's Ruling issuance of Minute Resolution 98-1747. counted by the machines. that was shrouded with uncertainty. In fact. to disengage. It would the Equitable Remedy effectively nullify the purpose of delivering speedy and accurate election results and thus The assailed Comelec Resolutions have heretofore been shown to be tainted with grave defeat the election modernization ordained by Congress. now results cannot be upheld. It did not RA 8436. shortly thereafter. were concerned. and (3) without an independent position was contested in the instant petition. since the judicial disenfranchisement of the Sulu electorate. sought relief from this Court to assail the manual count and the subject Minute Resolutions ." Hence. requesting the immediate suspension of the automated irregularity of the very method used in determining it. The manual count. if we are to give effectivity of Minute Resolution 98-1747 was expressly "subject to notice to all parties true justice to the people of Sulu and let their sovereign will prevail. 1998 — assailed Minute Sulu one who was not their clear choice. to transfer the counting venue from Sulu to Manila. The talking points count at this time is the annulment or junking of the votes of the people of Sulu in the last in that meeting related to the alleged incorrect reading of ballots for Pata. after the ballots had been manually The ponencia. has been frustrated or not discuss the issue of whether to stop the tallying because much earlier in the morning of virtually canceled by the unauthorized acts of the Comelec. concern only the position of governor of the Province of Sulu. to uphold the results of the manual count would set a dangerous precedent. Tolentino's personal. Tolentino. 1998. proclamation of Private Respondent Tan as the duly elected governor of Sulu.as yielded by the manual and the automated counts. And such stoppage. The consequent loss of a legal and appropriate means to ascertain the genuine will of the The assailed Resolution was issued even before the report-recommendation of Atty. 20 While the believe that this is the only equitable remedy left under the circumstances. In response. contrary to their allegations. 22 But when the popular will itself is placed in serious doubt due to the petition 18 directly to the Comelec." its very issuance by the Comelec en banc was obviously (1) without notice to will. the manual count was not Clearly. in the entire province. and the damp ones that the machine found difficult straight. or whose election was. the Court has held that the sovereign will must prevail over legal Immediately after that meeting adjourned. (2) without any hearing at all. Definitely. Thus. That which proceeds from a void order is likewise void. Equally important. hence. meeting. dirty or sticky. They did elections. Precisely. their inputs were reflective of the automated count. We simply cannot impose upon the people of Comelec en banc forthwith issued on the very same day — May 12. inaccurate and give them any opportunity to be heard prior the promulgation of its rulings. there were those that could no longer be electronically processed Again. as well as the solicitor general. In making these decisions and issuing the manual count under the facts of this case was antithetical to the rationale and intent behind resolutions therefor. while the parties may have been heard by Atty. 5. It Epilogue would be tantamount to validating the arbitrary and illegal acts of the Comelec. I repeat. which Atty. close to midnight of that day. It was the counting earlier. 21 While the great majority of the ballots could still be ballots in Sulu. 19 granting the petition insofar as the votes in the Municipality of Pata serious doubt by the spuriousness of the method used in counting the votes. Furthermore. be truly count was not reflective of the results of an automated count because the ballots were not "worse than the disease. Joseph E. only the candidates therefor have timely investigation by the Comelec. the scanning machines could not Intervenor Jikiri "were given every opportunity to oppose the manual count of the local accurately read all of them anymore. voters during the last election in Sulu necessitates the holding of a special election. Indeed. the resort to a and to totally shift to the manual count. it would critically set abuse of discretion. did not serve as a sufficient basis for the Comelec to abandon the human error. Lack of Due Process in Issuance During the Oral Argument. the manual count has no legal leg to stand on. however. at the very least. It relied totally on the contents of the petition itself. citing the Tolentino Memorandum. examination of three ballots from the prescribed or even the appropriate method of validating the ballots intended to be one precinct. which showed that votes for a certain mayoralty candidate were not reflected electronically verified. Some factual antecedents have to be brought up to set the record — ballots that were torn. I beg to disagree. The Comelec error-prone manual system of counting automated votes. To paraphrase then Vice President. inconsistency and fraud were intended to be eliminated in the automated automated count in the entire province. in the imprudent hands of an indiscreet poll body. I Tolentino was submitted to the Comelec en banc. Atty. as I discussed that the voting process itself was tainted with undue irregularity. 23Such special election concerned. the consistency and the accuracy of the machine municipalities of Sulu were discovered after that meeting was adjourned already. the automated election system. the Comelec clearly did not accord the parties due process. there is no evidence showing reports thereon came only after the said meeting." may. albeit unauthorized. rather. verily. however. therefore. agreed that an of Assailed Comelec Resolutions automated count was no longer possible because. the another chance to express their true choice. system. In sum. its back efforts at eliminating electoral fraud. states that Petitioner Loong and handled (and blemished or rumpled in the process). It would Special Election as provide the candidates a degenerated means to delay the proclamation of winners. was already post facto. Private Respondent Abdusakur Tan sent his technicalities. The meeting among the candidates and other parties concerned. that the nullity of Tan's proclamation is not equivalent to a take up the alleged rejection by the machines of ballots in other municipalities. was based merely on the verbal complaints of some watchers and members of the process. for the alleged problems in the five other It must be borne in mind that. Time and again. was not BEI and Atty. the group that convened did not yet It must be pointed out. Consequently. Such count were the underlying factors in adopting the automated system of election. Sulu. the parties. simply acted on its own.

without giving any reason for completely authority to order even a temporary stoppage of the counting. on the suspicionthat the printing defect was prevalent province-wide. for process of The Need for Legislative Action voting. whose rights cannot be adversely To begin with. I dissent. under what circumstances. He noticed that Province of Sulu without any adequate legal or factual bases. insufficient. determined election results for the position of governor of Sulu and the proclamation of Factual Antecedents of Respondent Abdusakur Tan as the elected governor of said province must thus be SET Stoppage of Count ASIDE and the Comelec ORDERED to call a special election for such position as soon as About 6:00 a. thus. Assailed Comelec Resolution Nos.. honest. generated ones which had 27 precincts. which showed zero (0) vote for that 1. the majority justifies this reversion to the manual method as a valid pronouncements. a course diametrical to the constitutional principle of separation of powers. he had no legal count. J. . First. In peremptorily stopping the ongoing automated counting of ballots in the Municipality of candidate (Mr. can prescribe a precise safeguarding the sanctity of our elections. not to the automated election system. to allegedly patent discrepancies between the printed election returns and the With due respect. the results as manually appreciated substantially differed from the machine. that courts have no jurisdiction to make legislative On the other hand. are deemed to have accepted the results of the manual change in the manner and venue of counting count as truly reflective of the will of the people of Sulu. . the Comelec abondoned the ongoing system that were unrelated to the counting machines or components thereof. or more authorized in the same or any other law. (2) on whether Comelec may resort to a manual count of automated ballots. stoppage of the automated count. the poll body has no legislative power to relevantly. as well as the results. 24 Even this Court has admitted the wisdom of this caveat as it denied the late including the Province of Sulu. In any event. This reversion to the manual election system is nowhere candidates who believe there was a wrong count or canvass by the machine. I submit that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) blatantly actual votes cast for the mayoralty candidates in the Municipality of Pata. the automated counting of votes in Sulu during the last elections and substituted it mid-stream lacuna of the proper recourse in such event. Tolentino had such authority. not manual. if only to demonstrate the utter lack of prudence in the 1747. For the courts or the Comelec to "movement" should be canalized by the proposition that the Comelec may exercise its do so (like a resort to manual count) would be tantamount to judicial or administrative discretion only in accordance with law and never in violation of it. Atty. the Court. the day after the election. Their failure to object in due time Let me explain each of these grounds. 98-1750. The foregoing disquisition shows that RA 8436 had not foreseen flaws in the automated However. orderly. 3 Second. much less to contravene. Only Congress. he forthwith ordered a province-wide suspension of the automated to said town count. Atty. legislation. should not give its imprimatur to the Comelec's resort to the manual method of exercise. and credible electoral submit. Anton Burahan).of the Comelec. the factual basis of his exercise of discretion was sorely them. The manually Comelec's actions. the law. Well-settled is the rule. hence. Tolentino acted with grave abuse of discretion. elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). noted that the votes for a certain mayoralty candidate. Tracing the error mayoralty candidate in said municipality were not tallied by the counting machine assigned to misprinted ballots. where Congress has categorically prescribed the automated empowering the Comelec in order that it can more effectively perform its duty of system. I vote that the petition be GRANTED." I respectfully say. there is absolutely no dispute that Congress required the Comelec to conduct affected in these proceedings without them being haled to and accorded their day in automated. Clearly. 1998. counting of votes and canvassing/consolidation of results" 1 in the ARMM. Tolentino Jr. let me delve deeper into the factual and legal antecedents which led to the WHEREFORE. he candidly admitted that he had no statutory or even regulatory province basis for his action. some election inspectors as Separate Opinions well as watchers called the attention of the Comelec Task Force head in Sulu. stressing that this Court's ruling is "in cadence with the movement towards determining election results. Intervenor Jikiri alleged imminent danger of violence alleged he was at the time leading the count. to the process. 98. however. 26 They have no power to fill a vacuum in the law. On the spot. In changing the venue and the mode of counting from automated to manual. without due process of law. In issuing. the verbal manifestation of a BEI member or a watcher that a 4.. Jose PANGANIBAN. the Comelec while they contained votes for a certain mayoralty candidate. He saw only three (3) ballots out of about 200 from a single precinct in Pata. that such remedy that will address the flaws identified in this case. granting that tallied the ballots in a way different from how the automated machines would have counted Atty. and modify. insofar as they are concerned. explicitly mandates the Comelec to "use an automated election system . 3. In violating its own Resolution ordering both an automated count and a parallel manual I believe that Atty. In counting and appreciating the automated ballots with the use of the rules peculiar to vote for a certain candidate was not reflected in the election return conferred no legal manual elections. by actually holding only a manual count. of the ballots was being conducted at the Sulu State College. 2 Neither can it assume powers not granted to it if so. Stoppage of Automated Count now estopped from questioning the validity of the assumption into office of the duly Legally and Factually Flawed proclaimed winners of the other positions in the province. its assailed Minute Resolutions relating to the who. Republic Act (RA) 8436 intervention of Vice Gubernatorial Candidate Abdulwahid Sahidulla. manifests their conformity and acceptance. No remedies were expressly prescribed (1) for with the manual system. violated its express and specific statutory mandate to conduct automated elections in the Tolentino picked out three local ballots that had already been counted. 98-1796 and 98-1798 should be declared NULL and VOID. which were . such votes were not credited gravely abused its discretion in the following acts: in the latter's favor in the precinct election return. the legislative arm of the government. The same relief cannot be granted to the candidates for the other positions 5. court. Third. on May 12. the Comelec manually authority upon the election official to examine the ballots personally. that is. 2. due to about 65 percent of the ballots cast in Sulu were already machine-counted. During the Oral Argument on abandoning the automated system which was already 65 percent complete in the entire September 15. 1998. 25 either by the Constitution or by Congress. during the May 11. 1998 elections. contrary to its above clear mandate. I exercise of the Comelec's discretion to ensure a free. Tolentino then took it upon himself to immediately Pata and in the entire Province of Sulu on the flimsy ground that three ballots for a order the suspension of the automated counting of the ballots from Pata. while the automated counting practicable.m. Thus. At that point. They are 1. Specifically. dissenting opinion. Atty.

. it would appear that the Commission intended to conduct in Manila an or reference to any incident that would substantiate Tolentino's statement. Tapul and Jolo. Talipao. But Atty. the partisan armed groups reason to suspend the counting. I repeat. only the venue could have been changed. the lesser is the threat of prompted Atty. The ponencia justifies the Comelec's precipitate shift to manual counting "in view of the fast 3. it would not have taken very counting of the ballots. returns from only six (6) municipalities — Pata. as I will now show. in violation of law. counted.400 5 votes had been cast. and then a parallel manual count. Tolentino directed the suspension of the automated count in all peremptory issuance. some minor hitches. This phenomenon may have been brought Moreover. It does not by analogy. allegedly miscounted. there was a minor misunderstanding manual election system allows a suspension of the entire counting process on the mere between the Ahajan brothers of Brgy. the very evil sought to be remedied by RA 8436. the alleged imminent threat of violence did not at all justify 2. ASSESSMENT prolonged counting and canvassing. the assailed Comelec Minute Resolutions authorizing the manual count abandonment of the automated count was definitely not a necessary legal consequence must be set aside and declared null and void for having been issued with grave abuse of thereof. Rather. The conduct of election in the province of Sulu. the charges made by the candidates' watchers should have were thinly distributed. In other words. In Jolo. On the OEC. Siasi. in order to see if three or even 200 votes would spell a material xxx xxx xxx difference in the result. Even under the manual election system. 9 Originally. it bares automated count first. if at all. 1998). the concurrence parties could have objected to the inclusion of the questioned election return and followed. which actually resolved "to conduct a parallel manual counting [i]n all 18 municipalities of was submitted to this Court by. since verbal complaints of incorrect tallying by the machine were not a valid about by the fact that since there were four sets of candidates. even granting arguendo that the transfer of the counting venue was valid. Such holding would give losing parties and candidates a convenient Reportedly. of the majority of the watchers for such transfer is still required under the OEC. There simply was no basis for it. 6 But there are even more odious counting. again amounted to an abusive exercise of the 18 municipalities of Sulu. the extent of cheating was also less. it ordered the air-lifting to the relative tranquillity of the recent. Political rivalry was less intense. election cases are heard SIGNIFICANT INCIDENTS on the assumption that the protested ballots or returns would. Private Respondent Tan. mayoral candidate. Not even the matter is being investigated by this PPO. under Even assuming arguendo that imminent violence threatened the counting center. In Tongkil. the aggrieved the contrary. Under RA 8436. By analogy. Said Report makes no mention of Sulu .indicated in the three ballots. was issued ex parte by the Comelec en banc. is also done separately from the counting). in the print out of results were discovered in the counting machine assigned to Pata Atty. and a good and Questionable Ballots number of registered voters actually voted. This prompted the COMELEC to order the counting to be done in Manila. action in accordance with law and the Comelec rules. Suspending and finally stopping the automated change of venue for the counting. there [was] gunfire heard in the outskirts of Tapul but neither opposing group device to scuttle the automated system by the simple expedient of alleging that a few reacted. not to say given. however. if validated. Minute Resolution No. ordered the stoppage of the peaceful sans some isolated cases of mortar shelling and failure of voting in some counting of the rest of the ballots from Pata. three ballot boxes fell into the sea when the pump boat Tolentino immediately assumed that the three ballots would be determinative of the carrying them capsized." It Abandon Automated Count pays heed to the unsubstantiated report of Atty. cavalierly and thereafter resort to manual count on the flimsy basis that a few ballots were In the areas covered by the 3rd MBde. If the Comelec had conducted an automated count in Manila. its head office of all the relevant election paraphernalia. 4 Thus. Indanan. arguably sustained. which instead 1. when without much ado. . It would give them a convenient excuse to xxx xxx xxx revive and use an antiquated and fraud-ridden electoral method and thus lead to a 3. were not reflected on the election return. including the automated machines. Atty. it would have taken only one (1) minute Tongkil and failure of conducting elections in two precincts is Siasi. the If only on this basis. where about 5. to discard the automated system commotion among followers of candidates. recommendation or proper investigation for said purpose. such the automated system. ballot boxes damaged resulting from pump boat capsizing in 14 more remained to be. electoral process in the province. Tolentino to require the complaining parties to file their protests for proper violence. and barangays of Panamao. was stopped the day after the election when inconsistency long to finish the count for the entire municipality. all of Sulu. the same logic should apply to automated elections. In Indanan. allegation that a few ballots or votes for one candidate in one precinct are questionable. 1998.. The conduct of election in Sulu was generally peaceful compared with the previous Remedy in Cases of False Returns elections. it only authorized a change of venue of Danger of Violence the automated count. violence erupted only in Talipao. At the time. by her own standard. as amended by Section 20 of RA 7166. the procedure for a pre-proclamation controversy laid down in Section 243 of appear on record that the consent of the watchers was ever sought. even the alleged errors were reportedly discovered in partial discretion. was generally printed zero vote for such candidate. No Justification to deteriorating peace and order situation caused by the delay in the counting of the votes. Tolentino did not even try to get the aggregate votes cast in the municipality for each municipality. change the Voting in the areas assigned to Sulu PPO was generally peaceful and orderly except for election results. particularly at the polling places at Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade there was a short Doctrinally. . that may even be grounds. Such arbitrary and Making matters worse. No Imminent the manualization of the counting process. During the canvassing (which. but totally ignores the PNP Please note that the Comelec. but not the method of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. the adversely affected situation would justify only the transfer of the counting venue. Tolentino. it would be imprudent.. which ordered the candidate's remedy was an election protest. even dangerous. 98-1750 (dated May 13. But. without any count were completely uncalled for. provincial director's Comprehensive Report on the Sulu Election 7dated May 18. Panabuan but this was immediately resolved. viz. Hence. Automated for the counting machine to process 100 to 150 ballots. There was also allegation of ballot snatching thereat and this election results in the municipality. 1998. and Panamao. Had that recourse failed. only 13 ballot boxes had been. ballots were improperly counted by the machine. Even then. in its Minute Resolution 98-1796 8 dated May 15. petition. meaning the more number of groupings.

except for vital provision requiring an automated count was not implemented. minimum human intervention. President. Thus.17 To repeat. to the proper appreciation and reading of the count were the underlying factors in adopting the automated system of election. considering it the voter's true and valid vote. In sum. 13 there were significant discrepancies between the results of the manual Again." Under the automated program. count was conducted. Worse. It Under the automated system. wherein the names of the candidates are printed on human error. unexplainable reasons. Some ovals that were only partly shaded were not read by the machines. which was prescribed as the marked in favor a certain candidate. Some factual antecedents have to be brought up to set the record count. 1998. these were ignored by the machines. I could cite several other examples of why the manual count was not reflective of the 4. 11 This Court's Ruling A simple cursory reading of the rules 12 laid down in the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) for Sets Back Election Modernization the appreciation and counting of ballots cast in a manual election easily discloses that they It must be borne in mind that. Tolentino 1. they were not denied due process. conducted pursuant to the Court's Resolution dated Intervenor Jikiri "were given every opportunity to oppose the manual count of the local February 9. the Comelec acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction. Ovals that were ink-shaded were validated by the BEIs pursuant to the OEC 15 and the convened in the early afternoon of May 12. the machines are programmed to recognize or read only the would be tantamount to validating the arbitrary and illegal acts of the Comelec. pursuant to said Comelec rules. It would presence of carbon in the ovals. the machine concluded that there was an "over- regarded as falling within the residual regulatory authority of the Comelec." the stark fact is that such Rules were actually (and erroneously) precluded by the basic features of the automated election system. the automated election system has peculiar features designed for electronic. The automated system takes away the discretion of reflective of the automated count. citing the Tolentino Memorandum. it did not explain why this 3. and the mechanized discrimination of genuine from spurious ballots. the resort to a name has a corresponding oval which must have its own exact location on the ballot. Or a vote can be facilely nullified by simply marking "cure for electoral fraud. verily. Sulu. 14 Such straight. Estrada. 10 which requires used here. because some carbon content may be left in the effectively nullify the purpose of delivering speedy and accurate election results and thus oval that would still be recognized and tallied by the machine." automated ballots is fraught with dangers to the integrity of the votes therein. inaccurate and words. provide the candidates a degenerated means to delay the proclamation of winners. pursuant to the OEC. Yet. led to a substantial difference in the election results. it simply substituted the will of Congress with its own therein and ignored such writings. They did detect only ovals with sufficient carbon content. the Comelec did not obey its own Resolution. But the machines counted the votes submit. The point is: human handling of "worse than the disease. in the entire province. Indeed. however. which Atty. the use of Indeed. The very purpose of the law was defeated by the cumbersome." The counting machine invalidated these votes. for unstated and I marked ballots by some BEIs. it actually 5. 16On the other hand. only a manual count was done. Clearly. contrary to their allegations. the BEIs had no role in the counting and canvassing. was already post facto.However. the boards of election inspectors (BEI) in appreciating ballots." may. not discuss the issue of whether to stop the tallying because much earlier in the morning of 2. and why only a manual one. Precisely. Joseph E. now which the voter intentionally refrained from voting for any candidate) can be easily pencil. the manual count was not rejection of fake or counterfeit ones. arbitrary action. and wherein each system. several ovals for candidates for one office were shaded but. In some ballots. as well as as yielded by the manual and the automated counts. in the imprudent hands of an indiscreet poll body. I could have conceded the propriety of a parallel manual count — because it could not recognize the difference between an "X" mark and any other mark on which plainly means that both automated and manual counts were to be performed. were brought about by the following: The meeting among the candidates and other parties concerned. there was no reason at all to completely abandon the automated count. automated count was simply ignored without the Comelec giving any reason therefor. the mere shading of an oval corresponding to the name of the candidate ballots. an "over-vote" is considered "no vote. Inspite of theponencia's plain admission that the OEC Rules on the Those for the Automated System appreciation of ballots "only apply to elections where the names of the candidates are I would like to emphasize that the resort to a manual appreciation of the ballots is handwritten in the ballots. All it could "read" was the carbon content. of Assailed Comelec Resolutions To be more concrete and specific. A blank ballot (in back efforts at eliminating electoral fraud. Atty. Lack of Due Process in Issuance makes the political exercise more vulnerable to electoral fraud. the group that convened did not yet . counted by the BEI. during the physical examination of the ballots used in The ponencia. and due to the presence of carbon on Although not expressly sanctioned by law. Rules for Manual Elections Different from machine count. inconsistency and fraud were intended to be eliminated in the automated the ballots beforehand and are not handwritten by the voters themselves. Tolentino had already suspended the counting in that municipality and. it would critically set automated ballots will also make it all too easy to nullify the voter's will. as long as they were not found inside the ovals. the use of a special quality of ballot paper. also crossed out or marked with an "X. he use of inappropriate Rules by the BEIs necessarily begot a misappreciation of the security codes. which could in that meeting related to the alleged incorrect reading of ballots for Pata. states that Petitioner Loong and several precincts in Pata and Jolo. not advisable (the voter may. To erase a vote is. In fact. shortly thereafter. as well as in the operation of the counting machines to which these ballots in Sulu. the Resolution ordering an BEIs counted the remaining uncrossed vote. ballots used in the automated system. ask for a new ballot). In other RA 8436." However. the consistency and the accuracy of the machine are inappropriate. voted for. 1999. as reflected in the official election returns. It would under Comelec rules. in turn." Hence. verification. manual count under the facts of this case was antithetical to the rationale and intent behind conforming to the design that has been programmed in the counting machine. Ballots on which the voter manually wrote the candidates' names were considered Comelec had a duty to comply with the mandate of Congress. ballots were fed. Such misappreciation. not error-prone manual system of counting automated votes. in fact. be truly the oval of another candidate for the same office. to uphold the results of the manual count would set a dangerous precedent. if not downright useless. the oval. Definitely. manual. Unfortunately vote. pursuant to the OEC rules. To paraphrase then Vice President. and those of the machine count. Furthermore. The 4. but were that same day. Human handling of the defeat the election modernization ordained by Congress. I beg to disagree. the automated election system. The talking points Comelec rules. the and inexplicably. such parallel manual count may arguably be more than one oval for a single office.

Assailed Comelec Resolution Nos. And such stoppage. submit. Besides. are deemed to have accepted the results of the manual problems in the Municipality of Pata only. The same relief cannot be granted to the candidates for the other positions issuance of Minute Resolution 98-1747. The if so. close to midnight of that day. I effectivity of Minute Resolution 98-1747 was expressly "subject to notice to all parties believe that this is the only equitable remedy left under the circumstances. serious doubt by the spuriousness of the method used in counting the votes. 98- to disengage. the scanning machines could not remedy that will address the flaws identified in this case. Indeed. and (3) without an independent will. thus. the manual Well-settled is the rule. as well as the solicitor general. Equally important. They are meeting. as well as the results. if we are to give concerned. as I discussed judicial disenfranchisement of the Sulu electorate. was not one precinct. the legislative arm of the government." its very issuance by the Comelec en banc was obviously (1) without notice to true justice to the people of Sulu and let their sovereign will prevail. 23Such special election the other candidates. Thus. That which proceeds from a void order is likewise void. has been frustrated or ASIDE and the Comelec ORDERED to call a special election for such position as soon as virtually canceled by the unauthorized acts of the Comelec. the manual count has no legal leg to stand on. The will of the electorate. In making these decisions and issuing the affected in these proceedings without them being haled to and accorded their day in resolutions therefor.take up the alleged rejection by the machines of ballots in other municipalities. whose rights cannot be adversely and to totally shift to the manual count. It was the counting BEI and Atty. concern only the position of governor of the Province of Sulu. We simply cannot impose upon the people of Resolution 98-1747. proclamation of Private Respondent Tan as the duly elected governor of Sulu. rather. the parties. 19 granting the petition insofar as the votes in the Municipality of Pata Sulu one who was not their clear choice. Only this investigation by the Comelec. 1998 — assailed Minute another chance to express their true choice. I appreciated in the manner the scanning machine would have counted them. simply acted on its own. which showed that votes for a certain mayoralty candidate were not reflected the prescribed or even the appropriate method of validating the ballots intended to be in the election return. for the alleged problems in the five other count as truly reflective of the will of the people of Sulu. only the candidates therefor have timely Clearly. the Court has held that the sovereign will must prevail over legal petition 18 directly to the Comelec. can prescribe a precise handled (and blemished or rumpled in the process). albeit unauthorized. its relevantly. 21 While the great majority of the ballots could still be do so (like a resort to manual count) would be tantamount to judicial or administrative counted by the machines. the irregularity of the very method used in determining it. The manually The ultimate effect of the invalidity of the manual count and the futility of an automated determined election results for the position of governor of Sulu and the proclamation of count at this time is the annulment or junking of the votes of the people of Sulu in the last Respondent Abdusakur Tan as the elected governor of said province must thus be SET elections. The Comelec intervention of Vice Gubernatorial Candidate Abdulwahid Sahidulla. at the very least. that courts have no jurisdiction to make legislative count was not reflective of the results of an automated count because the ballots were not pronouncements. there were those that could no longer be electronically processed legislation. dirty or sticky. It did not court. should not give its imprimatur to the Comelec's resort to the manual method of During the Oral Argument. under what circumstances. 20 While the voters during the last election in Sulu necessitates the holding of a special election. — ballots that were torn. . their inputs were sought relief from this Court to assail the manual count and the subject Minute Resolutions definitely not communicated to nor required by the Commission en banc prior to its of the Comelec. It relied totally on the contents of the petition itself. 1747. Consequently. however. that the nullity of Tan's proclamation is not equivalent to a reports thereon came only after the said meeting. 98-1750. insofar as they are concerned. the Tolentino meeting took up the who. there is no evidence showing earlier. or whose election was. a course diametrical to the constitutional principle of separation of powers. however. 24 Even this Court has admitted the wisdom of this caveat as it denied the late give them any opportunity to be heard prior the promulgation of its rulings. since the It must be pointed out. Private Respondent Abdusakur Tan sent his Time and again. Their failure to object in due time municipalities of Sulu were discovered after that meeting was adjourned already. while the parties may have been heard by Atty. electronically verified. There is then no basis for the practicable. we must allow the people involved Comelec en banc forthwith issued on the very same day — May 12. 26 They have no power to fill a vacuum in the law. placed in were concerned. requesting the immediate suspension of the automated technicalities. The consequent loss of a legal and appropriate means to ascertain the genuine will of the Tolentino was submitted to the Comelec en banc. I vote that the petition be GRANTED. where Congress has categorically prescribed the automated automated count was no longer possible because. expressed through the ballots. (2) on whether Comelec may resort to a manual count of automated ballots. No remedies were expressly prescribed (1) for The assailed Comelec Resolutions have heretofore been shown to be tainted with grave candidates who believe there was a wrong count or canvass by the machine. that was shrouded with uncertainty. For the courts or the Comelec to accurately read all of them anymore. I repeat. (2) without any hearing at all. The Need for Legislative Action Epilogue The foregoing disquisition shows that RA 8436 had not foreseen flaws in the automated Special Election as system that were unrelated to the counting machines or components thereof. hence. Tolentino's personal. did not serve as a sufficient basis for the Comelec to abandon the now estopped from questioning the validity of the assumption into office of the duly automated count in the entire province. Tolentino. after the ballots had been manually system. agreed that an determining election results. to transfer the counting venue from Sulu to Manila. proclaimed winners of the other positions in the province. Only Congress. position was contested in the instant petition. the Court. was based merely on the verbal complaints of some watchers and members of the that the voting process itself was tainted with undue irregularity. Immediately after that meeting adjourned. examination of three ballots from process. The manual count. and results cannot be upheld. Such to the process. The assailed Resolution was issued even before the report-recommendation of Atty. and the damp ones that the machine found difficult WHEREFORE. or more abuse of discretion. 98-1796 and 98-1798 should be declared NULL and VOID. manifests their conformity and acceptance. In response. therefore. 25 invalidity of the manual count resulted in no count at all. the Comelec clearly did not accord the parties due process. the the Equitable Remedy lacuna of the proper recourse in such event. 22 But when the popular will itself is placed in serious doubt due to the count and the holding of a manual count in the entire Province of Sulu.

the following cases. LORETO VILLANUEVA. Jr. vs. JAIME AGUILAR. REMIGIO RAMOS. JUANITO MOJE. for petitioners in G. ERNESTO CAAMPUED. M. Las Pinas M. The proclamation of the winning candidates for LORETA MIRANDA. vs. pertinent to these petitions.R. and praying for judgment: Suspend the proclamation of any winning candidate for Mayor. LUIS BUSTAMANTE. In the local elections of 18 January 1988 Gabriel P. and a nullity. petitioners. instead of presenting new issues or GONZALES. (pp. RODOLFO FRANCISCO. petitioners. IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING. 1988 by movants Gabriel P. and proclaim the winning the RTC. Accordingly. Nos. 88505) was filed by Reynaldo WHEREFORE. 88-251 Makati.: Reconsideration filed by movant Gabriel "Ben" Casimiro is hereby DENIED. petitioner Gabriel Casimiro had won the said local elections for the Office of Mayor. Rejoinders. In the meantime. as follows: RIGUERA. 88-210-Juntilla. The Municipal Board of Canvassers of Las Pinas. local officials of the Municipality of Las Pinas is hereby AFFIRMED. Canvassers. all in the same municipality. before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of 218. Rollo) . 8467879. No. 84462-63 March 29. Respondents. MAXIMO Reconsideration filed by Casimiro in SPC No.and SPC No. RASALINO Decision. ventilated in an election protest filed with a court of general jurisdiction. BENJAMIN The Commission en banc notes that movant Casimiro. Pinas and/or Tabulating Unofficial Election Returns. an electoral protest (Election Case No. RUSTICO ANTONIO. 139-140. EDUARDO CASTILLO and REYNALDO WHEREFORE. ERNESTO LUCENA and RENATO MIRANDA. 1988 dismissing SPC Nos. Makati. the G. WHEREFORE. Nos. the ballot boxes were transferred from the COMELEC Main Office to reconvene. Metro Manila. scheduled the dated 27 January 1988) restraining the proclamation of any winning candidate is hereby verification of the tally sheets and the opening of seven (7) ballot boxes relevant to the lifted.G. 1988. Metro Manila. 88. 1989 Decision of the Second Division dated March 25. Accordingly. The order (in Minute Resolution No. the pending Byron S. Jr. thus: SANTOS. 88-210. Both the law and jurisprudence on this matter clearly dictate the dismissal of this Respondents were required to file their Comment." (p. respondents. EDUARDO JIMENEZ. On 8 June 1988 the COMELEC en banc denied a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid HON. which they have. Casimiro was the UNIDO candidate for SO ORDERED. vs.R. 88-619 In the Matter of the Pre-Proclamation Controversy in Las Pinas. (iii) annulling the proclamation of respondent Rosalino Riguera for having been premature UNIDO Party. Presiding Judge Santiago Ranada. Branch 137. JAIME BULALACAO. (iv) after the recanvass of the above 340 election returns and a determination that Reynaldo Salvador. Rollo) 22. premises considered. 88-360 and 88-619 is hereby SUSTAINED. of the canvass from Las Pinas to the Comelec Central Office) is the same issue which has Edilberto Bacle for respondent A. Sur-rejoinders and a Counter-manifestation have also been presented. 151. PEDRO SALVADOR. 113. 1989 With the lifting of the Restraining Order. Special Proceeding Cases Nos. (c) the Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc dated July 13. SO ORDERED. (p. LAS PINAS BOARD OF CANVASSERS. is hereby ordered to protest. 88-360 and 88-619 are hereby dismissed. for petitioners in G. The issues should be properly Replies. 88-210. new evidence. ERLINDA PERICO.M. Anastacio for respondent R. docketed as G. (a) a portion of the Decision of the Second Division of the COMELEC promulgated on March During the canvassing of votes. respectively. SALVADOR. 84678-79 March 29. JAIME MARTIN. Casimiro. Casimiro and UNIDO party. candidates for local officials were proclaimed. Board of Canvassers. and SPC No. the Las Pinas Board of proclaimed Mayor. candidates. Riguera. Petitioner. Salvador. and ROMAN VILLAME. merely invokes the Commission's sense of fairness and equity. 88-218-In Re: Petition to Suspend Canvass of Election Return transfer the Venue for all for allegedly having been issued with grave abuse of discretion and in excess of the Canvass of Election Returns to the COMELEC Main Office in Intramuros. Rollo) vs.. No. before public respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC): (b) the Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc promulgated on June 8. J. respondents. a candidate for Councilor in Las Pinas. done. et al. decreeing in part: proclaimed accordingly. petition. with Riguera having been ultimately Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus against the COMELEC. while Reynaldo 84462-63. 1988. purpose of recanvassing the deferred 340 election returns which were unlawfully and SPC No.. the instant Motion for reconsideration filed on March 30. (p. and Rosalino Riguera as the principal respondents.R. LAS PINAS BOARD OF CANVASSERS. Nos.88-360-InRe:Petition to Enjoin Board of Canvassers from Canvassing of Votes of Las irregularly canvassed in the Manila COMELEC Office. Manila and/or jurisdiction. MIGUEL SORIANO. On 13 July 1988 the COMELEC en banc disposed of a Motion for Clarification and/or Partial COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. premises considered. if warranted. Vice-Mayor and Councilors in xxx the Municipality of Las Pinas. respondent Rosalino Riguera and the other winning GABRIEL CASIMIRO and UNIDO PARTY. or to Declare the Nullity of Proclamation. 84462-63. This is beyond the jurisdiction of this electoral body. Petitioner. 88-218. Acting thereon. the instant Motion for Clarification and/or Partial MELENCIO-HERRERA. that Resolving the aforesaid cases. seeking to annul and set aside: Salvador was a candidate for Councilor. et al. if any. the COMELEC (Second Division) rendered a consolidated respondent COMELEC declare said petitioner Casimiro as the winner and thereafter Decision on 25 March 1988. were filed 25.1988. Petitioner. Rollo) Mayor of the Municipality of Las Pinas. 88-218. incident is nothing but a pro-formamotion. (ii) directing the respondent COMELEC to constitute a new Board of Canvassers for the Gabriel P. that the issue raised by movant Casimiro in this instant motion (legality of the continuation Miguel P. de Leon.R. complete the canvass if not yet completed. is hereby DENIED. been squarely passed and ruled upon in the subject Resolution of June 9.R. Juntilla. ALFREDO JUNTILLA. et al. 46." SPC No. JR. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. Rosalino Riguera. Soriano. Remigio Ramos and Eduardo Castillo were both candidates for Vice-Mayor. Jr. SO ORDERED. Alfredo Juntilla and Rosalino Riguera On 19 August 1988 petitioners Gabriel Casimiro and the UNIDO Party availed of the instant were also candidates for the same position of Mayor.M. Considering Jose G.1988.

the affiants as their witnesses. but that postponement was precipitately temporary restraining order" (p. The Board. Watcher/ Representative. Rollo) conducted by the Second Division of the COMELEC where petitioners could have presented We find the Petitions without merit and accordingly dismiss them. cannot justifiably claim that notice was lacking or that said notice was meant only for the II transfer of election returns. that they had Santiago Ranada until further orders from this Court and after the Court receives aforesaid asked for the postponement of the canvassing for the following day as they had no comment of the Solicitor General on the main petition and on said motion for issuance of a watchers. 1988 G." Please be informed that as per order of the Commission on Elections dated 29 January 1988 Petitioners' attribution of errors to the COMELEC reads: the venue of the Canvass of Election Returns in the Municipality of Las Pinas will be transfer I (sic) to the COMELEC Central office at Intramuros Manila this afternoon at 1:00 P. this Court ordered "that Status Quo be maintained in this case by present at the COMELEC Main Office not for purposes of the canvassing on 2 February 1988 not opening the ballot boxes which is scheduled on September 22. padded and were GENERALITIES THAT THE DENIAL BY THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF THEIR OBJECTIONS TO spurious. petitioners relied on the Affidavit of Atty. Nos. Nos. Rollo) OF ELECTION RETURNS CONDUCTED BY RESPONDENT MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS The letter having clearly referred also to transfer of "the venue of the canvass". FUNDAMENTAL AND Note that we need your representative to accompany us in transferring the remaining CARDINAL RIGHTS TO DUE PROCESS WHEN IT UPHELD THE VALIDITY OF THE CANVASSING election returns in the Central Office. upholding the validity of the canvassing at its Main Office. petitioners prayed before this Court for a Restraining Order enjoining Judge Ranada illegal for having been made without prior notice to them as to the date and time of from enforcing his aforesaid Order. petitioners AT THE COMELEC MAIN OFFICE IN MANILA. THE RESPONDENT COMELEC SERIOUSLY ERRED AND COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF Errors II. HENCE. III. The full text of the letter from the Municipal Board of Canvassers Las Pinas Board of Canvassers and the proclaimed councilors seeking the nullification of the granting their request reads: same COMELEC Decision (2nd Division) and Resolutions en banc) sought to be set aside in "Feb. said appeal was not made within IV the reglementary period.R. 74. FRAUDULENT AND SPURIOUS. the issues raised "are similar and/or identical. Paterno Lubaton one of petitioners' CASE. UNIDO candidates for Councilors of Las Pinas filed another Petition for Certiorari and The transfer of the canvassing from Las Pinas to the COMELEC Main Office in Manila was at Mandamus before this Court. 1988 before Judge but only to accompany the transfer of the election returns and ballot boxes.R. upon motion duly filed in G. Under Section 244 of the SPURIOUS ELECTION RETURNS HAVE NOT BEEN PROVED WITH SUFFICIENT AND Omnibus Election Code.. 1988." Petitioners further decry the fact that no hearing was NULLITY. M. and that election returns were tampered with. PADDED AND by continuing with the canvass. THE RESPONDENT COMELEC COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR AND A GRAVE ABUSE OF February 2. which they claim showed in detail all the fraud.R. petitioners CONVINCING EVIDENCE AND THAT THE ELECTION RETURNS CANVASSED WERE TAMPERED should have appealed the matter within five (5) days from the time the contested ruling or WITH. and IV may be considered jointly. especially its Chairman." (pp. 2. and that said Affidavit meets the standard of substantial evidence. III At any rate. tabulators and election paraphernalia. As found by the COMELEC.Believing that the opening of said ballot boxes would adversely affect the outcome of this I. canvassing for which reason they left the proceedings. as well as the individual precincts where the DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT THE ALLEGED FAILURE OF PETITIONERS TO OBJECT TO anomalies existed. PATERNO LUBATON'S To substantiate their charge of anomalies and irregularities including the allegations that AFFIDAVIT. Florencio Dalupang their own Head THE PROCEEDINGS CAN NO LONGER BE RAISED BEFORE THE RESPONDENT COMELEC. therefore. 84462-63. this Court ordered consolidation of all said cases considering that Las Pinas. Rollo). by reason of which they were deprived of their basic and fundamental right to due It also appears that on 1 September 1988 Rustico Antonio and nine (9) other defeated process. ONE OF THE COUNSEL OF THE PETITIONERS. . They claim that their counsel was On 20 September 1988. however. many election returns were canvassed more than once. Petitioners claim that the totality of the circumstances recited in V that Affidavit reveal a "clear pattern of anomalous acts" and that the Affidavit detailed with THE RESPONDENT COMELEC SERIOUSLY ERRED Al COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF particularity the illegalities committed. docketed as G. REGARDING THE FRAUD.M. 174. A Canvassers. DISCRETION WHEN IT RULED THAT THE ALLEGATIONS IN ATTY. WHEN IT FOUND THAT THE CHARGES OF PETITIONERS OF TAMPERED. the petitioners' instance. against the COMELEC. No grave abuse of discretion can be attributed to the COMELEC. SUFFICIENT AND CONVINCING. and lawyers. Petitioners claim that the latter part of the MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION FILED BY PETITIONERS BEFORE THE RESPONDENT Affidavit also detailed the "patently partial and biased actuations of the Board of COMELEC WAS HASTY AND IN CONTRAVENTION OF ELECTION LAW AND RULES. Nos. proceeding was held. 17-19. 84678-79. irregularities and anomalies VI concerning the election returns before and during the canvassing of the returns first in Las THE PROCLAMATION OF CANDIDATE ROSALINO RIGUERA DESPITE THE PENDENCY OF THE Pinas and later at the COMELEC main office. supra. SPECIFIC ELECTION RETURNS AT THE CANVASSING BOARD LEVEL IS FATAL TO PETITIONERS' Petitioners likewise submitted the Affidavit of Atty." (Annex "E". when petitioners objected to the canvassing held by the Board at the COMELEC THE RESPONDENT COMELEC SERIOUSLY ERRED AND GRAVELY ABUSED IT'S DISCRETION Main Office for alleged lack of prior notice. it actually contested its proceedings. If petitioners' representatives were absent during the THE RESPONDENT COMELEC COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR AND A GRAVE ABUSE OF canvassing it was because they had opted to leave the proceedings for reasons of their DISCRETION WHEN IT RULED THAT THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY PETITIONERS TO own. in effect overruled the objections. that ghost precincts were credited IRREGULARITIES AND ANOMALIES DURING THE CANVASSING PROCEEDINGS WERE ALL with election returns. denied. p. the proceedings of the Board having been contested. DISCRETION IN COMPLETELY DEPRIVING PETITIONERS OF THEIR BASIC. 84678-79 "THE Unido Party by Rustico Antonio. On 13 December 1988. Petitioners contend that the canvass proceedings in the COMELEC Central Office were Petition. et al.M. in SUBSTANTIATE THEIR ELECTION CHARGE ARE NOT CLEAR.

In their capacity as VI. Respondents. COMELEC (137 SCRA canvassed were null and void. a pre-proclamation controversy is no longer viable at this overturn the presumption that official duty had been regularly performed (Section 5[m]. Nos. after canvass of the returns. THE PROVINCIAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF SULU. returns at the canvassing board level is not fatal to their cause because Section 241 of the so we find it necessary to regulate competition. WHEREFORE. Hence. LUUK. VELASCO. JR. MUNICIPAL BOARDS OF CANVASSERS OF MAIMBUNG. the evidence relied upon mainly by petitioners to support their charges of fraud Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioners was dated 29 March 1988 (p. The evidence presented by petitioners is not enough to 424) and in a number of cases.. SO ORDERED. Respondents. Neither should it be lost sight of that the Board proclaimed the The Case winners pursuant to the COMELEC Decision dated 25 March 1988 ordering the board "to Before us are two petitions under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. 126. No. suffrage to select the representatives to public office. Petitioner. Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis remains that the letter body passed upon petitioners' allegations and charges concerning Election cases. JIKIRI. The Petitions below had fraudulent in character or a declaration that the proceedings wherein the returns were ceased to be pre-proclamation controversies. Courts should thus be vigilant in protecting this constitutional right so that the to so proclaim is ministerial after the mechanical or mathematical act of counting the votes people’s voice would not be stifled. approached with extreme caution. The duty of the Board safeguarded. was in compliance with that di restive. In the same G. . to freely enjoy this right and that their choices are recognized. TONGKIL." The proclamation.: And even assuming that the alleged failure of petitioners to object to specific election We have found it necessary to regulate liberty. Aside from said sworn statements. 21 SCRA 1514. real choice of the electorate x x x. allegations. but also the paramount need of dispelling the uncertainty which beclouds the that the charges are either unsubstantiated or mere generalities. The first is the Petition for reconvene.R. Recourse to such a remedy would manufactured or false and consequently should be disregarded in the canvass must be settle the matters in controversy conclusively and once and for all. reliance should not be placed on mere affidavits was improper because it was made during the pendency of a Motion for Reconsideration (Pimentel. that "they could not have intelligently and effectively BENJAMIN T. ABDUSAKUR M. THE determinations on matters within the exclusive function of the Commission. people’s suffrage—which encompasses public choices and interests. As held in Padilla vs. registered their objections during the proceedings as the defects.S. PANAMAO. Moreover. vs. True. 2006 breath they allege. the instant Petitions are hereby DISMISSED for petitioners' failure to COMELEC. the Filipino people are accorded the constitutional right of Decision of the COMELEC Second Division of 25 March 1988. . The requirement under Section 246 of The status quo Order directed to the Regional Trial Court of Makati. the proper remedy being an electoral protest before Rule 131). Petitioners claim that the COMELEC seriously erred and gravely abused its discretion in PROVINCE OF SULU. The and/or a Temporary Restraining Order 3 under G. They were also given an opportunity to submit evidence in support of their protest filed before it by Reynaldo Salvador is hereby LIFTED. As held in Alonto vs COMELEC (22 SCRA 878). Instead of the submission of mere affidavits. Rollo) and irregularities in the election returns and in the canvassing consisted of Affidavits while the proclamation was made right after the promulgation of the COMELEC Second prepared by their own representatives. ruling that they bad failed to object to specific election returns at the canvassing Board x-------------------------------------------------x level because they did interpose written objections to the Canvassing Board. consistent with G. valid and acceptable and is consistent with the summary character of proceedings in election cases. it must be stressed that private respondent Rosalino Riguera and the other winning evidence that would justify the exclusion of election returns in the canvassing for being candidates bad already been proclaimed and bad assumed office. and only upon the most convincing proof (Estrada vs. It cannot be denied. BENJAMIN LOONG and NUR-ANA SAHIDULLA. 166143-47 November 20. "involve not only the adjudication of the private interests of rival the election returns and the canvassing proceedings.R. anomalies and vs. COMELEC. TAN and BASARON BURAHAN. Petitioners were so the said Branch from opening the seven (7) ballot boxes in connection with the electoral notified. Branch 137. Such procedure is fair. however. the parties would be able to canvassing proceedings must be upheld. fraudulent in character. Petitioners. 140 SCRA 126. the records do not indicate any other substantial Finally.Obviously. Nos. the policy of election laws is that pre-proclamation cases should be summarily decided. 42. A conclusion that an election return is obviously present witnesses subject to the right of confrontation. and proclaim the winning Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction candidates. irregularities were not apparent or noticeable on the face of the election returns" (p. 1519). clearly necessitates factual COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. candidate Rosalino Riguera was proclaimed soon after the promulgation of the having sovereign authority. therefore. These inconsistent assertions cast doubts on the credibility of petitioners' DECISION allegations. restraining the Omnibus Election Code is that the parties be notified and heard. 2006 the law's desire that the canvass and proclamation be delayed as little as possible. the right of suffrage must be proclaim the elected candidates (Abes vs. 21 SCRA 1252). or spurious. Rollo). The self-serving nature of said Affidavits cannot be Division's Decision on 25 March 1988. complete the canvass if not yet completed. however. 166891 November 20. COMELEC. LOONG. the election returns and the the proper forum. To ensure that Filipinos fully and that the Board of Canvassers has the legal obligation. J. demonstrate that public respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion Nor can COMELEC be faulted for merely requiring the parties to submit their respective amounting to lack of jurisdiction in issuing the questioned Decision and Resolutions.R. the issue as to whether the election returns objected to by petitioners are vs. 166143-47 which seeks to set aside . indeed.148). the fact —former U. taking note of the self. suffers from inaccuracy. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (First Division) and YUSOP H. petitioners' allegation that the proclamation discounted. point of time and should be dismissed. cast has been accomplished. In the absence of clearly convincing evidence. Memoranda in support of their respective positions. tampered with. They were required to submit a Memorandum in amplification of their position. ALL V. As this Court has pronounced." 2 The public nature of election cases is ensconced in the serving nature of the affidavits petitioners presented as evidence to support their charges. [1] Omnibus Election Code allows them to bring their case directly to the COMELEC. Jr. and the verdict of the poll body was candidates.

Nurhaida S. Luuk. Jul Ambri Abbil. 9 04-339.R. Jamuri. which in Julhani. Hayudini S. Kiddang. Albinar S. SPA Nos. Ayatulla Jakaria. 8 04-337. Gamar Basala. [30] in Fadzrama Aukasa. Petitioners submitted various affidavits and respondent Benjamin Loong was proclaimed the winning governor of Sulu and he assumed photographs to substantiate their allegations: [13] office. and Panamao. five (5) Petitions to Declare Failure of Elections in the towns of Maimbung. Commanding Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction 5under G. the COMELEC First Division issued an Order [26] which granted the municipal councilor candidate Jumdani Jumlail. Najir Ahamad. Alcafon Talib. In the consolidated because they arose substantially out of the same facts set forth below: May 20. Sahak P. Basik Abton. respectively. Darwin Lalik. Talib. 04-337 (Luuk. Jurri. 04-205. showing electoral irregularities. the COMELEC Second Division directed the Sulu PBOC to The Facts complete the canvass of votes and "to bring all canvass documents to Manila. [22] of the COMELEC First Division. Juratol Asibon. which seeks to annul and set aside the December 14. Julbasil Sabtal. 04-164 and 04- 340. Singson. Nurjaina S. namely.the October 18. Apal A. 04-339. Asaad. canvass from Luuk. petitioners submitted the affidavits of poll watchers Talib Jikiri to immediately convert his petition ad cautelam into a regular election protest which Usama. Ammad Madon. proclaim the winning candidates for Governor in Manila. 04. 04-336 (Maimbung. other three before the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Sulu to exclude certificates of all of Sulu Province. petitioners submitted the affidavits of poll watchers municipalities of Sulu. machinations allegedly perpetrated by private respondents and their supporters resulting in However. 2004. The other is a Petition for Certiorari with Prayer for a Likewise. Mhar Sappari. dismissed all five (5) and Harahun Arola. Abdusakur M. On May 17. [27] docketed as EPC No. 10 and 04. was granted by the COMELEC First Division in an Order [28] dated October 28. together with other local candidates for other petitions. the COMELEC en banc. It reasoned that it could only exercise the extraordinary remedy of Amina D. relation to Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code [31] and Section 4 of RA 7166. Moreno Adjani. 2004-66 praying. The COMELEC en banc ruled that there was no failure of election in the subject In SPA No. Muktar Ailadja. and vice-mayor. issued its May 17. Tongkil. Nuluddin Malihul. and Altimir A. a valid Nasirin Al-Najib. Tan and Basaron Burahan were the gubernatorial and vice. All these petitions were dismissed by the Boards concerned. private massive disenfranchisement of voters. Abubakar. 04-336. filed with the COMELEC four (4) Petitions for exclusion of election returns from several precincts docketed as SPA No. 2004 Joint Resolution. 04-163. Tongkil. Jurmin Suraid. for Say Abdurasi. 2004 national and Even before the filing of the four (4) aforesaid petitions. Arthur V. Uttal Iba. of Sulu Province in the May 10. Naufal Abubakar. election was held as scheduled. and the Declaration of Failure of Elections in the towns of Maimbung. photojournalist Alfred Jacinto-Corral [20] who attested taking nine (9) 337. Kasim Akol. Nonoy T. Marvin Saraji. inter alia. Arsidan Abdurahman. respectively. docketed as SPA Nos. declaring a failure of election in the three instances mentioned in Carlos v. Luuk. Randy J. including that of for declaration of failure of elections by petitioners Tan and Burahan in SPA Nos. photographs [17] allegedly showing electoral irregularities. through its October 18. 2005 7 Orders Sulu. Abdurasid attested to taking seven (7) and Panamao. Boy Sabtal. 2006 Resolution. Nilson Bakil. Amina Undug. Basiri Hamsah. 2004-66. mayor. Alguiser Abdulla. Angeles. and by Yusop Jikiri in SPA No. Jul-Islam Benhar. Sulu). a report was submitted by Philippine Army 1Lt. Petition of Protest Ad Cautelam. Tanduh Patong. 04-334 which is not under photographs [21] showing election irregularities. 04-334. 2004. Lim Tingkahan. Reagan Bensali. the COMELEC Second Division. and it was petitioner Tan to file an appeal with the COMELEC First Division which issued an docketed as SPA No. Gaming Talib. Sulu for the congressman. In SPA No. 563rd Infantry (Matapat) BN 11D. on July 19. Julhani attested to taking five (5) photographs [19] allegedly in a failure to elect. Nasib Nurin. Second. 04-337. and to Petitioners Abdusakur M. 2004 to declare a failure of elections. Rujer Abdulkadil. Faizal Husbani. Sulu). Tantung Tarani. through a Joint Resolution. petitioners submitted the affidavits of poll watchers Nijam In the meantime. Sulu). [14] petition and annulled the proclamation of respondent Loong as governor of Sulu Province. and registered municipalities of Sulu. Jikiri filed before the COMELEC a Daud. Sikal Lastam. 04-138. Binnar Pitong. docketed as SPA No. Munir Ruling of the Commission on Elections En Banc in Ukkang. and Mujina G. [23] but lifted the suspension three (3) days later. Yusop Jikiri. and On June 21. of Elections. Dinwaza Undug. terrorism. In dismissing the petitions. the recount or revision of the ballots cast and the examination of election returns in four (4) Bakkar Jamil. Sulu poll watchers Aminkadra Abubakar. respondent Yusop H. 2004 lifting Order. (2) the election is suspended. which denied petitioner Loong’s motion to dismiss in EPC Meanwhile. This prompted petitioner Tan to file a Petition for Annulment of the Proclamation with In SPA No. 04-336. 2004. Rosefier Talib. Ibrahim. Abdurasmin . This prompted respondent In SPA No. [12] Order [25] on May 24. illegal schemes. Otal Ibba. Panamao. consideration in this petition. Mardison I. another Petition for Declaration of 165. and Parang. Tongkil. [29] dismissed the Tongkil mayoralty candidate Olum Sirail. 04-339. on the same day that the COMELEC First Division issued the said Order. Yusop Mirih. 2004 Order suspending the proclamation of the winning Through the Supreme Court en banc September 12. Undug. petitioners. 2004 Joint Resolution 4 of the COMELEC en banc which rejected the prayer Abdurahman. 2004 6 and February 7. Dayting Imamil. Maimbung. and Parang docketed as SPA Nos. Bakili. Emamil. for lack of merit. 04-339 (Tongkil. No. For the municipality of Luuk. Undug. Maimbung. and 04-340. and 04-340 Merinisa T. which allegedly showed massive failure of voters to cast their ballots. and proceedings and to refrain from proclaiming any winning candidate. Abdurahim Sairil. or (3) the election results Affiant poll watcher Altimir A. Luuk. Sulu. the COMELEC found that based upon the evidence presented by the parties. Bensali Kamlian. 04-334. these cases were gubernatorial candidate of Sulu. petitioners submitted the affidavits of poll watchers the COMELEC First Division. Abdurasid. Gelotin. the COMELEC held that none of the grounds relied upon by Petitioners submitted additional affidavits and photographs. particularly the affidavits of petitioners fall under any of the three instances justifying a declaration of failure of election. Affiant poll watcher Merinisa T. [18] gist are: (1) the election is not held. [15] petitions filed on May 17. 166891 Officer of Alpha Company. voters Sahaya Muksan. Indah Taas Undug. 04-336. acting on the Petitions for Declaration of Failure Case No. Sitti Aiza Undug. Mahrif Sumlahani. Sulu). there was no suspension of the election as voting Mudahi. 04-340 (Panamao. Abzara H. Sin-sin Buklasan." [24] gubernatorial candidates. First. Tan had filed four (4) local elections. 2004. 2004 directing the concerned boards of canvassers to suspend their Petitioners Tan and Burahan alleged systematic fraud. [16]over-all coordinators of On October 18. [11]respectively. Rhino Gumbahali. Musid Madong. one before the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Parang. 2004. Maimbung. prompting Failure of Elections was filed by another gubernatorial candidate. Lingbird Sabtal. The COMELEC en banc. Abdulla Abubakar. Ramil P.

Thus. 2004 Joint Resolution. and a copy of the The Court’s Ruling opinion was served on petitioners’ counsel on November 24. petitioners in their May 17. Third. counsel received a copy of the Joint Resolution on October 21. 2004. the COMELEC First Court must first determine whether a separate dissenting opinion in an election case before Division concluded that these pending pre-proclamation cases would not prevent the COMELEC is a part or component of a resolution or decision. 2004. No. After the dismissal of the petitions to declare failure of elections on October 18. The Commission considered the affidavits self-serving and insufficient to Meanwhile. as Section 248 of the Omnibus Election Code does not require that the petition to To resolve the preliminary procedural matter on whether the appeal was filed on time. 2004. The Issues However. 2004. through a Joint Resolution.R. On December 14. It further held that it did not matter that these pre. The Sadain Dissenting Opinion was released on November 23. Besides. they contend that the assailed October 18. 2004-66 copy of the November 23. and which fact proclaimed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBC). the result of Sadain’s view and. which completed the Joint Resolution. COMELEC [35] and Basher v. 166143-47." consideration: Subsequently. private respondent Loong was elected by a plurality of votes as respondent Jikiri from converting his protest ad cautelam into a regular one. 2004 his Answer with withheld and they could not intelligently and reasonably file the instant petition without it. 2004. those of Maimbung and Tongkil were left cases have different causes of action. on March 18. however. 2004. 2004 or on the eve of the May 10. Abdusakur Constitution and Rules silent on when a Decision is Complete M. reglementary period to file the appeal must be counted from the receipt of the October 18. 2004 Joint Resolution received by the conversion of respondent Jikiri’s protest ad cautelam to a regular election protest on petitioners on October 21. albeit patently null and void. and the ballots in Luuk and Panamao proceedings. the COMELEC First Division issued the first assailed 2004 Joint Resolution—since it is the judgment and not the Sadain Dissenting Opinion being Order [38] denying petitioner Loong’s motion to dismiss. 166891. Nos. 2005. Finally. No. in dismissing the consolidated petitions despite the evident there was failure of elections as the voters were allegedly not sufficiently informed about massive disenfranchisement of the voters. Subsequently. could proceed independently. and 53 days after they received a copy of the Preliminary Issue: Timeliness of the Petition October 18. The Commissioner opined that to lack or excess of jurisdiction. on October 18. 04-164. was not raised by the office. 2004 elections. Tan in SPA Nos. 2004 Order. the COMELEC First Division’s dismissal of the appeal filed by annul the results of the election. Petitioners filed the The petitions are bereft of merit. bars the COMELEC en banc on May 9. Nos.R. After all.R. transmission. the change and transfer of polling places (clustering of precincts) approved [34] by the Whether [or not] the proclamation of the respondents. the annul or suspend the proclamation be filed by the protestant. 166891. 2004 and Moreover. petitioner Loong simultaneously raises the following issues before us: held that insufficient notice of the change of date and venue deprived voters of the Whether [or not] the COMELEC has jurisdiction to entertain electoral protests filed beyond opportunity to participate in the elections. 2004 Dissenting Opinion. 19 days after they received G. COMELEC First Division directed the concerned parties to take the appropriate steps to Petitioners alleged that fraud and terrorism took place in Luuk and Panamao because voters address the financial and personnel requirements for the protest and counter-protest were forced to affix their signatures and thumbprints. Commissioner Sadain submitted his Dissenting Opinion [33] on November Whether [or not] the respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting 23. COMELEC. Tan. petitioner Benjamin T. comply with the directives of the December 14. 166143-47 a copy of the Sadain Dissenting Opinion. In G. petitioner Loong’s Motion for Reconsideration [39] was denied through the Citing Grand Alliance for Democracy v. 2005 Order [40]which directed COMELEC field personnel to grounds raised by petitioners were best ventilated in an election protest. 2004 was incomplete since the sole Dissenting Opinion was October 28. DISSENTING OPINION TO FOLLOW. would not preclude the Commission from deciding the election protest case. Motion to Dismiss and/or with Counter Protest. Petitioners’ proclamation of Benjamin Loong as governor of Sulu. the undisturbed throughout the preparation. neither is it essential to nor does it affect the ruling of the which could affect Loong’s motion. [42] Commissioner Sadain cited Hassan v. proclamation cases were not filed by respondent Jikiri but by another candidate. ten (10) days after the proclamation of the results of an election for a given provincial This basis of Commissioner Sadain’s Dissenting Opinion. 2004. Loong filed on November 8. However. Petitioners Tan and Burahan maintain that the 30-day reglementary period to file the Denial by the COMELEC First Division of petition for certiorari only started to run on November 24. were filled out by respondents’ poll watchers and supporters. instant petition in G. Nos. 2004 petitions (for declaration of failure of elections) before the Whether [or not] the COMELEC has jurisdiction to entertain simultaneously pre-proclamation COMELEC.R. the day they received a Petitioner Loong’s motion to dismiss in EPC No. 2004. and 04-165 for the exclusion of single affidavit of an alleged disenfranchised voter. custody. both the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and private respondent dismiss on the ground that the COMELEC had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of an Loong strongly assert that the instant petition was filed out of time as the start of the election protest filed out of time. Thus.R. own poll watchers. [32] the COMELEC en banc ruled that the second assailed February 7. the COMELEC First Division stayed the implementation of these directives pending of fraud and terrorism since their evidence consisted mainly of affidavits executed by their resolution of the instant petition in G. petitioners Tan and Burahan raise the following issues for our Sadain who signed it with a note: "DISSENTING. . COMELEC[36] which In G. the Joint Resolution was not concurred in by COMELEC Commissioner Mehol K. thus. [41] rendered moot and academic the issue on the annulment of the COMELEC. the certificates of canvass. 2004 or 36 days after the joint resolution was issued. 04-163. [37] Petitioner Loong anchored his motion to On the other hand.continued normally. controversies and electoral protests. in a subsequent The COMELEC did not give credence to petitioners’ evidence in support of their allegations order. and canvass of the returns. COMELEC en banc. and thus. They also point out that the withheld Dissenting Opinion is only Commissioner filed out of time as there were still pending pre-proclamation cases before it. dismissed the petitions for lack of merit. filing of the instant petitions for declaration of failure of elections. 166143-47 on December 13. the While the authenticity and integrity of the election returns from the municipalities of Luuk COMELEC First Division noted that pre-proclamation controversies and election protest and Panamao were questioned by petitioner Tan. ruling that the protest was not assailed. it pointed out that petitioners presented only a petitioner Abdusakur M.

A certification to this effect signed by the Chief Justice of Procedure: Unconstitutional shall be issued and a copy thereof attached to the record of the case and served upon the Under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure there is an instance when the 30-day reglementary parties. Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution provides: instant case.e. [46] grants and authorizes the COMELEC to validly rendered or issued when there isconcurrence by the required majority of the promulgate its own rules of procedures as long as such rules concerning pleadings and Commissioners. brief. whether they be concurring or dissenting judicial practice—which public respondent COMELEC practices—of promulgating all separate opinions. 7. with the required majority vote. the dissenting opinion. [43] Verily. It does not envision what Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 18 provide—an the minority. But such won’t serve to silent as to what constitutes a decision—whether it is solely the majority opinion or whether help petitioners’ position. we exercise this power and authority in voiding Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 18. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its Members any case or Court has a rule-making power provided in Article VIII.—When in a given resolution or decision the submitted to it for decision en banc or in Division shall be reached in consultation before the writing of an extended opinion is reserved. [44] promulgated by the clerk of court and to devise a procedure that makes certain of the In sum. Section 6 [45] and Article IX-C. this SEC. however declare that Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 18. 1987 Constitution pertinently provides that: practice do not diminish. we the separate concurring or dissenting opinions are considered integral parts of it. (Emphasis supplied) only upon the receipt by the parties of the reserved extended opinion released within 15 This constitutional directive was adopted in Section 1. Section 5. order or resolution and not from the receipt of a dissenting opinion issued later. Put The above quoted constitutional proviso clearly posits the unequivocal scenario that a otherwise. of the last pleading. increase or modify substantive rights. Separate opinions not approved by processing and adjudication of election cases and proceedings. shall be incorporated in the decision. order. Rules of Procedure which states: COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides thus— Section 1. on the other hand.—The conclusions of the Commission in any case Section 3. When Extended Opinion Reserved. in line with this ruling. the majority opinion embodied in a decision or decision. It will reinforce the correct the required majority of the court members.) is based. is not essential the 30-day reglementary period is reckoned and forestall unnecessary delays in the to nor does it affect the ruling of the COMELECen banc. COMELEC Rules of Procedure are Decision complete with the required majority opinion unconstitutional and must perforce be struck down. There is nothing from the above constitutional proviso nor in the COMELEC Rules of or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the Procedure that requires the submission of a dissenting opinion before a decision or aggrieved party within thirty [30] days from receipt of a copy thereof (emphasis supplied). must be distinguished from the opinion of the court.Section 13. prompt submission of the reserved extended or separate opinion within a fixed period. order. as the case may be. it may be considered that the dissenting opinion duly noted The above-quoted Sections from the Constitution and the COMELEC Rules of Procedure are "to follow" in the joint resolution is an extended reserved opinion. striking down Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 18 will obviate future confusion as to when Moreover. Rule 18 of COMELEC Rules writing of the opinion of the Court. and even if the reason for the dissent or inhibition is submitted much later unwarranted extension of the period to file an appeal on certiorari. Period to Appeal or File Motion for Reconsideration When Extended Opinion is Commissioner. COMELEC the Commission itself. A case or matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing special courts and quasi-judicial bodies. 7. not respondent COMELEC to promulgate a more orderly rule pursuant to its rule making power being essential to the assailed joint resolution. Thus. the period to file a took no part. the Division and a certification to this effect signed by the Chairman or the Presiding Section 4. Sec. paragraph (5) [47]—the matter brought before it within sixty days from the date of its submission for decision or constitutional prerogative and authority to strike down and disapprove rules of procedure of resolution. the 30-day reglementary period must be reckoned from the receipt of the decision. x x x Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law. Section 7 of Article IX-A. we leave it to resolution is the ruling being assailed and not the dissenting opinion. From the above-quoted rules. order. or ruling before it is resolution must state the reason therefor. In the Petition filed out of time . The same requirement shall be observed by all This is when an extended opinion is reserved. the joint opinions together with the majority opinion. Any Member who Reserved. The 30-day reglementary period starts to run lower collegiate courts. the dissenting opinion merely serves to under the Constitution to ensure that the majority and separate opinions are collated and comply with the constitutional proviso that any member who dissented from a decision or appended together to constitute a complete decision. The 1987 Constitution. which is only Commissioner Sadain’s view. While we are sympathetic to the predicament of petitioners. must state the reason therefor. resolution concurred by the required majority is validly rendered.—If an extended opinion is reserved in a decision or resolution. Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution which decision. order. or abstained from a decision or period to appeal is reckoned other than the date of receipt of the resolution or decision. Sections 3 and 4 of Rule 18. Besides. complete. the extended opinion shall be released within case is assigned by raffle to a Member for the writing of the opinion of the Commission or fifteen (15) days after the promulgation of the resolution. i. any Rules of Procedure for contravening Article IX. division shall be reached in consultation before the case is assigned to a Member for the Sections 3 and 4. Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law. under Article IX- The Court rules that a resolution or decision of the COMELEC is considered complete and A. resolution. or memorandum required by the rules of the Commission or by Thus. Procedure in Making Decisions. Any Member who took no part. than its promulgation. any decision. the dissenting opinion was submitted and promulgated 36 days after the The conclusions of the Supreme Court in any case submitted to it for decision en banc or in assailed joint resolution. Rule 18 on Decisions of the COMELEC days from the promulgation of the resolution or decision. It is clear that. begin to run only from the date the aggrieved party received a copy of the extended Every decision shall express therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it opinion. or dissented. Section 3. or ruling is issued complete with separate opinions duly incorporated upon resolution duly promulgated is validly rendered and issued despite dissent or inhibition of its promulgation. (Emphasis supplied. or abstained from a decision or resolution must state the reason petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court or to file a motion for reconsideration shall therefor. or dissented. or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court pertinently provides: on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.

resolutions or orders of collegiate of polling places—which was duly disseminated to the parties. saying: disenfranchised. and registered voters of Second. and voters—was courts must have separate concurring or dissenting opinions appended to the majority a mere formality to confirm what was already set way before the May 10. 6695 of April 13. resolution or order is timely promulgated. to wit: administrative matter that COMELEC Commissioner Manuel A. 2004 approval of the change and transfer Nonetheless. or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for closing of the voting. on account of force majeure. [66] The aforementioned issue is now raised only for the first time on appeal before this Court. 2004 COMELEC Resolution No. in conjunction with the AFP and Election the losing party deciding to appeal to a higher court. And it is the responsibility of the clerk of court to The April 13. Consequently. not be considered in disposing of the issues of an action. approved and caused to be disseminated through COMELEC Regional majority and minority opinions and the reasons why they voted in such manner. opinion before these are promulgated. or after present case.—If. candidates. Contrary to Commissioner Sadain’s Dissenting Opinion and Ground not raised below cannot be raised on appeal what petitioners want us to believe. 2004 elections. the instant petition must be dismissed for being filed out of time. simply not in accord with orderly justice. fraud or "it would be offensive to the basic rule of fair play. 2004 elections. Section 6 of the Code prescribes the conditions for issues on appeal is violative of the rudiments of fair play. Barcelona. COMELEC Resolution No. Significantly. 2004 or 23 days beyond the 30-day reglementary the subject municipalities. more particularly in the Pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No. 2004. it has to be made clear that decisions. and the voters of the subject municipalities in Sulu Province abrupt change of polling place as an issue. [51] we reiterated this rule. They assert that there was merely a appeal. Officers. submitted for confirmation to the COMELEC en banchis memorandum [64] on the approval Even if we concede that Tan and Burahan’s petition was filed on time. period. Under Republic Act No. about the clustering of precincts and the transfer of polling centers before the May 10. De Gualberto v. petitioners cannot rely on this argument for support. [53] This is true whether the We are not persuaded. not in a petition to declare a failure of election. justice and due the exercise of this power. [50] sham election followed by a similar sham canvassing. the last day Even granting arguendo that the issue of the alleged change and transfer of polling places of the 30-day reglementary period. and in any of such . the parties will have Sulu Province had sufficient time to be informed about the location of the polling places and difficulty understanding the dissertation in theponencia of the majority that addressed the the clustering of precincts before the May 10. Quoting extensively Commissioner Sadain’s elections. 6695 and 6932. The records sufficiently shed light on this issue and dispel any doubt as to the failure of Separate opinions submitted before promulgation election as alleged. It is apparent that the May 9. points raised and reasons presented in the separate opinions. Court of Appeals." [61] Likewise." [68] the COMELEC en banc is empowered to declare a failure of election under In Labor Congress of the Philippines v. 7166. violence. if the separate opinions are not appended to the main opinion. Having received the disseminated to the electorate joint resolution on October 21. 2004 Petitioners now modify their theory on appeal. otherwise known as "The Synchronized Elections Law of Moreover. As a matter of fact. The clustering of precincts in Sulu Province was an There are two (2) salient reasons why this principle must be followed.] the election in any polling place has not been held on the date [the] issue[s] raised for the first time on appeal. [52] and documents forming no part of the proofs before the appellate court will declared by COMELEC. in Vda. 2004 petitioners had until November 20. terrorism. Commission on Elections. [59] we also held: 1991. within which to file the petition for certiorari. the concerned political parties. 2004 confirming Commissioner Barcelona’s prior approval First Issue: No Disenfranchisement of Voters of the clustering of precincts. it would still not justify a declaration of failure of election in the instant petition only on December 13. we find that the of clustering of precincts in Sulu Province. [56] a the electoral anomalies alleged in the petitions should have been raised in an election special proceeding. Commissioner-in- First. such election results in a failure to elect. [49] petitioners now allege that who executed affidavits on the alleged irregularities. especially Director of Region IX. [58] Piecemeal presentation of evidence is protest. 6695 [63] granted authority to the ensure that these separate opinions are submitted within the required period so that the Commissioners-in-Charge of regions to decide on all administrative matters not covered by decision. thus: process. [55] and whether it was rendered in a civil case." We cannot take an opposite stance in the fixed. particularly those Dissenting Opinion which applied Hassan [48]and Basher. [60] we have made it clear that "to allow fresh Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code. petition failed to establish that the COMELEC en banc committed grave abuse of discretion. and the voters were consequently Thus. 6932 [65] was issued on May 9. petitioners had their poll watchers in place. Failure of Election. Thus. 2004. there was no lack of ample notice to petitioners. Helen G. specific resolutions or policies. NLRC. the alleged election irregularities to ensure their victory. decision elevated for review originated from a regular court [54] or an administrative The COMELEC correctly dismissed the Petitions for Declaration of Failure of Election since agency or quasi-judicial body. Fairness and due process dictate that there was really no election held because all the ballots in these municipalities were filled evidence and issues not presented below cannot be taken up for the first time on out by private respondents’ relatives and supporters. For filing was raised before the COMELEC. both parties deserve to know all the views of the collegiate court who voted for the Charge of Region IX. Aguila-Flores. Commissioner Barcelona dissenting opinion. candidates. Commissioner Sadain approved and signed COMELEC Resolution Nos. the instant petition was clearly filed out of time.Foregoing considered. No failure of election Settled is the rule that issues not raised in the proceedings below (COMELEC en banc) Petitioners argue that there was failure of elections in the four (4) subject municipalities as cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. [57] or a criminal case. the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the Information on clustering of polling places duly custody or canvass thereof. Consequently. their The records of the case from the COMELEC show that petitioners did not raise the alleged poll watchers and supporters. justice and due process if it considered other analogous causes[. in Orosa v. [62] the Court disallowed it because Section 6. Go. in Matugas v. This explains why petitioners avoided the sudden change in the polling places deprived the candidates and voters of sufficient raising this issue in their Petitions for Declaration of Failure of Election before the notice which afforded private respondents undue advantage and enabled them to engage COMELEC en banc. They strongly maintain that this instant case falls within the first instance The rule in appellate procedure is that a factual question may not be raised for the first time under Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code [67] where a failure of election may be on appeal.

First Issue: Timeliness of election protest Factual findings of the COMELEC which has the expertise in the enforcement and Distinction between electoral protests filed under administration of all election laws and regulations are binding on the Court [75] and must Sections 248 and 258 of the Omnibus Election Code be respected. election. These essential facts should have been clearly alleged by merit. after a thorough superseded by March 18. terrorism. As stated in Banaga. at the first instance. namely (1) no voting took place in the precinct or precincts on of precincts and transfer of polling places. petitioners before the COMELEC en banc. where ordered to affix their signatures and thumbprints. Moreover. Binang. fraud. the election resulted in a failure to elect. fraud. terrorism. there Before the COMELEC can act on a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of election was sufficient notice to the political parties. to warrant a declaration of failure of election. based on the COMELEC en banc’s scrutiny of the facts. [76] Mere affidavits are insufficient. of the electorate is muted and cannot be ascertained. below. Petitioners only allege that there was a sham substantiate their allegations of election anomalies. Neither did aptly ruled by respondent COMELEC. when they were executed by the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to petitioners’ poll watchers. committed by the holding of an election. Unlike in these cases. three (3) instances justify the declaration of failure of conduct of elections. 2004 COMELEC First Division Order was set aside and only an error or question of law is involved. Had there been election. the above-mentioned sole affidavit of Miriam H. No. candidates.R. and 04-165. is not enough to annul the election. instead of only a single affidavit of one allegedly disenfranchised majeure. much less grave abuse. and none of the extreme irregularities that marred the elections in Hassan and Basher were and (2) the votes not cast would have affected the result of the election. call for the holding or continuation of the election not held. [71] Grounds raised proper for election contest In Banaga. or even if there was voting. [84] In the instant case. or military authorities that the elections held were peaceful and orderly." [70] As to the third scenario. to wit: massive disenfranchisement. or marred fatally the preparation and transmission. under the (c) after the voting and during the preparation and transmission of the election returns or in presumption that their official duties had been regularly performed. No evidence of massive disenfranchisement albeit patently null and void. examination of the documentary evidence presented by petitioners in the proceedings 04-163. to its . and other irregularities in the From the above-cited proviso. We agree with the petitioner Loong doubtlessly concedes the original jurisdiction of COMELEC over election finding of the COMELEC en banc that the evidence relied upon by petitioners to support protests involving provincial officials. not a petition to declare a failure of election and similar sham canvassing. a winner. an alleged disenfranchised majeure. [83] If the will of the people is terrorism. suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after elections. among others. As noted earlier. this Court resolves "cases in which Loong through the June 21. terrorism. [82] we reiterated the rule that there is failure of election only if the will cause of such failure of election could only be any of the following: force majeure. we note that while allegations do not constitute sufficient grounds to nullify the election. petitioners should have presented the affidavits of these (a) the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed on account of force disenfranchised voters. and COMELEC en banc in dismissing the Petitions for Declaration of Failure of Election for lack of canvass of the election returns. 04-334. notice and hearing. fraud. but they did not. and voters regarding the clustering two conditions must concur. No. bars the filing of the instant petitions for declaration of failure Petitioners want us to examine the evidence and the findings of facts by the COMELEC en of election. 2005 Order dismissing the appeal of petitioner Tan in SPA Nos. or other analogous causes. be interpreted to mean that nobody emerged as the subject four (4) municipalities. they failed to substantiate or prove said allegations. terrorism. A scrutiny of the petitions filed before the COMELEC shows that petitioners never alleged the will of the people was evident as the PBC duly proclaimed the winning candidates. where the election allegation of massive disenfranchisement of voters wherein legitimate voters were simply was not held and where the election was suspended. fraud. there must be a resulting failure to elect. violence. [77] more so. 166891 COMELEC en banc. the same must be respected as much as possible. voter. Sulu presented by gubernatorial candidate respondent In these three (3) instances. 04-164. [79] the custody or canvass thereof." [74] Nevertheless. The conclusion of respondent COMELEC is correct that although elect. we agree with public respondent that the preparation and the transmission of the election returns give rise to the consequence of petitioners should have presented the affidavits of the alleged disenfranchised voters from failure to elect must. the their charges of fraud and irregularities in the conduct of elections in the questioned Commission shall. but they were not. violence. [69] voter from the Municipality of Luuk. Yusop Jikiri in SPA No. Commission on Elections. as mentioned earlier. custody. violence. the date fixed by law.cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election. or other analogous causes. v. we held that: Hassan [80] and Basher [81] do not apply to the instant case. In Banaga. Anent the second issue raised on "whether or not the proclamation of the respondents.R. [78] (b) the election in any polling place had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for We go along with the COMELEC en banc in giving more weight to the affidavits and the closing of the voting on account of force majeure. [72] Note that the present. [73] determinable. Considering petitioners’ Jr. petitioners should have filed an election protest to petitioners allege that no one was elected. and under the Constitution. "this is obvious in the first two scenarios. suspended and that the other pieces of evidence submitted by petitioners were not credible and or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election inadequate to substantiate petitioners’ charges of fraud and irregularities in the conduct of not held. the alleged irregularities must be proven to have prevented or suspended the Therefore. on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due municipalities consisted of affidavits prepared and executed by their own representatives. we find no cogent reason to alter the findings and conclusions of respondent G. As that no voting was held nor was voting suspended in the subject municipalities. such electionresults in a failure to elect on account of force Verily. we find no abuse of discretion. While this given to the instant petitions even if the annulment of the proclamation of respondent Court is not a trier of facts." we find that this matter is already moot as a non-issue. violence. the Moving to the issues raised in the second petition (G. he excepts. 166891). petitioners specifically alleged violence. fraud or other analogous causes. the election proceeded as scheduled. as due course was banc asserting that there was evident massive disenfranchisement of voters. Besides. or other certifications executed by the members of the Board of Election Inspectors and the PNP and analogous causes.

[SPC instead of SPA should have been used] the The petitioner’s formulation of his basic submission and the premises holding it together Commission (FIRST DIVISION) hereby ANNULS the precipitate and premature proclamation run as follows: The PBOC of Sulu proclaimed the results of the gubernatorial election. like any rule issued by judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. the filing of certain petitions the result of which could affect the protestee [petitioner Loong]. provincial or city official shall Not to be overlooked. the numerous election-related in Bince. they should In the case at bench. 2004 or ten 2004 or fifty-six (56) days after the May 24. as turned out. militates Records show that there are still pre-proclamation cases pending before the Commission. which. While the facts annulment of his May 24. to resulted in the issuance on May 17. 2005. annulment must file the petition before the expiration of the 10-day period. the party seeking It may be well to point out at this juncture that the rules on reglementary periods. The fallo of said annulling order reads: results of the election. as here. We reproduce with approval what the public respondent said. 2004 proclamation was contextually on (10) days from May 24. on May 24. 2004. [89] fine. Rule 20 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure practically says disposition of the pending appeals and petitions involved in SPC 04-138. the filing of the election protest ad cautelam on July 19. The purpose for allowing pre-proclamation controversies. According to petitioner. [86] different causes of action. the COMELEC emphasized that the pre-proclamation controversies Abdusakur Tan initiated right after the First Division acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion when it May 10. in a Section 248 petition to annul. (Underscoring added) In view of the foregoing but without prejudice to any resolution which would issue in The complementing Section 1. provides as follows: 2004. In other No. 2004 or a little over fifty (50) days after the proclamation. the imputation of grave abuse of discretion. Accordingly. while a petition to annul interrupts the running of the period. under which either of the petitions referred to therein is the petition to annul or to suspend the proclamation be filed by the protestant. Such conversion is an option of which is covered by the aforequoted Section 248 of the Omnibus Election Code." [88] – A sworn petition contesting the election of … any regional.[90] Correlating the petitions mentioned in Section 248 with the 10-day period set forth in the Thus. This situation distinguishes the instant case from that of shall suspend the running of the period within which to file an election protest or quo Dagloc vs. to him. the filing converting his election protest ad cautela into a regular one. On the other hand. an adverse party should file a petition to the way of determining the true will of the people. was alone will not thwart the proper determination and resolution of the instant case on . 2004––did not start to run at all. Indeed. This liberal filed. respecting the denial of the motion to dismiss filed by petitioner Loong against the election Petitioner’s basic posture may be accorded plausibility. which were filed against petitioner Loong by the other Sulu gubernatorial Assuming for the sake of argument that the petition was filed out of time. 2004. to wit: SPC 04-163 works to stop the running of the reglementary period to file an election protest. Jr. or. 04-164. Before the proclamation. in refusing to dismiss respondent Jikiri’s Petition of Protest Ad Cautelam (EPC protest from running. SPC Nos. COMELEC (321 SCRA 273) to which the protestee is anchoring his defense.and post-proclamation. is referred to as "grab the election protest case. Said fact likewise does not preclude us from deciding the in the bud the occurrence of what. in election practice. SPA No. A belated protest. v. 2004. except that it glossed over a protest of respondent Jikiri: statutory provision which. what we said therein is most apt: petitions. in election protest may merit consideration had the petitions against him been only for the election-related cases. Election contests for Batasang Pambansa. provincial and city offices. sought to suspend his then impending proclamation which. Provincial Board of Canvassers of Sulu) and SPC 04-165 (Abdusakur Tan vs. Pre-proclamation controversies partake of the nature That the cases are still pending with the Commission will not prevent the protestant from of petitions to suspend. protest contesting his election ought to have been filed on or before June 3. within ten days after the proclamation of the governor-elect. this incident candidates. 2004 elections. Under Section 248 of the Election Code. This is because the 10-day reglementary period to file such protest––which ordinarily July 19. is the June be filed with the Commission by any candidate who has duly filed a certificate of candidacy 21. After the proclamation. [87] Petitioner Loong himself admitted as much: "x x x on May 17. is to nip which the protestant enjoys. Pre-proclamation controversies and election protest cases have proclamation and prolong the protest" situation. in aSection 248 petition to suspend where the 10-day period did not start to run at filing an election protest is untenable. 04-163. pre. Effect of filing petition to annul or to suspend the proclamation. SPC 04-164 (Abdusakur Tan Section 248. the petitioner’s arguments on the belated filing of the respondent’s be disregarded when they pose obstruction to the attainment of such lofty ends. and 04-165. – The filing vs. are prescribed to ensure stability in Election protest case filed on time the administration of justice. a petition to suspend tolls the 10-day period for filing an election First Division. because a corresponding position could have preceded it. 2004-66) on the stated ground that he filed the same after the lapse of the period for words. is the determination of the popular will. some of the petitions adverted period. perhaps. 10-day period. They can proceed independently. the same thing. The Provincial Board of Canvassers of Sulu). as well as to promote substantive justice. 2004 of an Order suspending the proclamation of the Section 250 of the Omnibus Election Code [85] under which the petitioner anchors his case governor-elect of Sulu. SPA No. It cannot be over- COMELEC of jurisdiction to entertain the said protest. Section 248 of the Omnibus Election Code does not require that that is. COMELEC [91] are not on all fours similar. 2004 proclamation. the filing of a Section 250 election contest after the tenth (10th) day from proclamation Rules prescribed to promote substantive justice is not late. in of BENJAMIN LOONG as the winning candidate of governor of Sulu. However. were only resolved nonetheless entertained respondent Jikiri’s election protest filed beyond the reglementary on March 18. effectively deprived the would have expired on June 3. in the light of certain proceedings as thus narrated. winning candidate for Governor of the province of Sulu. thus: (Abdusakur Tan vs. regional. a Upon the foregoing considerations. 04-163. all. warrantoproceedings. "annul" or undo a proclamation made. but by another candidate. was filed after the reglementary eventually made on May 24. that is. It is likewise of no moment that the pre-proclamation cases were filed not by the protestant As may be noted. the aforequoted Section 248 contemplates two (2) points of reference. 2004 Order of the COMELEC First Division annulling petitioner Loong’s proclamation as and has been voted for the same office. what ought to be filed is a petition to "suspend" or stop an interpretation likewise sits well with our policy to forego with technicalities if they stand in impending proclamation.assumption of jurisdiction over such contest which. as what private respondent Jikiri filed on time. the COMELEC Second Division issued an Order suspending the proclamation of the Section 250. And as events unfolded. Provincial with the Commission of a petition to annul or to suspend the proclamation of any candidate Board of Canvassers of Sulu). on the part of respondent COMELEC’s succeeding Section 250. declared him as the duly elected governor of Sulu. 04-164 and SPA No. 04-165. against his stance.

. several petitions were filed seeking the declaration of choose another timely remedy. Lanao del Sur. unnecessary. particularly in forty-nine (49) It bears reiterating x x x that the COMELEC is with authority to annul any canvass and precincts where the average voter turnout was 22. the [ruling of the COMELEC First Division] is illogical and absurd. however. circumstances. simultaneous adjudications offer more practical features than piecemeal declaration of failure of election. As a result. case [95] and the objective each seeks to achieve. parties. voter turnout was rather low. in gist. petitioner. 04-339. admits of . The Court agonized over its inability to fully look into the election irregularities alleged by petitioner. This rule. Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution. so that election irregularities may be fully votes. found to be the winner in his pre-proclamation appeals? Obviously. There were sixty-seven (67) precincts in the municipality. elected governor. election protests differ in terms of the issues involved and the evidence admissible in each COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. We reiterate what we said in Espidol v. i. We must stress the importance of Petitioner SULTAN MOHAMAD L. Second Issue: Simultaneous prosecution of The rationale therefor is aptly elucidated thus: pre-proclamation controversies and election protests We draw from past experience. [98] time issue a decision in the pre-proclamation appeals of Abdusakur Tan that the latter is the WHEREFORE. 2004-66 dated December 14. they should immediately was abnormally low. the Court. The assailed October 18. 04-336. counter-protests. [92] of office cannot deprive the COMELEC of the power to declare such proclamation a nullity. It is also true that as a general rule.. revisions of ballots. where the proclamation is null and void. Nonetheless. 166143-47. They are common sensical to be sure. Allowing the simultaneous SULTAN MOHAMAD L." Really. under certain LANAO DEL SUR. as well as the assailed Orders of the Petitioner Loong’s arguments.e. And what if the protestant may not have the COMELEC does not promote orderly procedure in the resolution of election cases.26%. As we held in Matalam v. and to prevent elected governor in the electoral protest filed against petitioner [Loong] and at the same illegal or fraudulent proclamation from ripening into illegal assumption of office. A pattern of conduct observed in past elections has been On the last issue of the propriety of prosecuting simultaneously pre-proclamation the "pernicious grab-the-proclamation-prolong-the-protest-slogan of some candidates or controversies and an electoral protest. appeals. a vindication when the term of office is about to expire the pre-proclamation appeals of … Tan are sustained and the defeated candidate … Tan is or has expired. where a victim of a proclamation to be precluded from challenging the submitting. there is no law or rule prohibiting the simultaneous prosecution or adjudication of G.e. are not anchored on any Commission of Elections First Division in EPC No.R. MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF LUMBA-BAYABAO. low voter turnout would not justify a For another. the Court BELLOSILLO. it is not legally possible for the COMELEC First Division to declare Jikiri the possible – to take election returns out of the reach of the unscrupulous.R. during the 11 may 1992 election. Nachura. dilatory tactics. the proclaimed candidate’s assumption be countenanced. We are now called upon to review this ruling. Thus. J. Five (5) of these precincts did not conduct actual office is not a bar to the exercise of such power. 106270-73 February 10. [97] The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) ruled that for as long as the precincts functioned Speedy disposition paramount and conducted actual voting during election day. Commission on Elections: [96] Brillantes. But a special election was ordered in precincts where no voting actually took place. due to the very limited scope of pre-proclamation controversy. Costs against petitioners. MITMUG and private respondent DATU GAMBAI speedy disposition of election cases because a late decision. and 04-340 in G.: reminds lawyers handling election cases to make a careful choice of remedies.. Layosa & Sibayan Law Office for petitioner. becomes apparent that a pre-proclamation suit is inadequate. respondents. election protest. prosecution scenario may be explained by the fact that pre-proclamation controversies and vs. like a petition to annul the election results or to declare a failure of election in precincts where less than 25% of the electorate managed to cast their failure of elections or even an election protest. COMELEC: As was heretofore stated. The fact that a candidate illegally proclaimed has assumed registered voters therein cast their votes. What will happen if wins but "a mere pyrrhic victory. It resources and an unwavering determination with which to sustain a long drawn-out election promotes useless. laying grave abuse of February 7. 1 proper remedy after the proclamation of the winning candidate for the position contested would be to file a regular election protest or quo warranto. Nos. i. Sections 3 and 4. 2004 and legal provision. Apostol. No rule or law prohibits simultaneous prosecution For one. [93] contest? In this context therefore all efforts should be strained – as far as is humanly As earlier stated. No. [94] 04-337. contravening Article IX-A. Adherence to a technicality that would put a stamp of validity on a exceptions and one of those is where the proclamation was null and void. SO ORDERED." Protests. 1994 pre-proclamation controversies and elections protests. is a veritable useless scrap of paper. The grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction is very 2004 Joint Resolution of the Commission of Elections En Banc in SPA Nos. that an election contest should be put on hold until pre-proclamation validity thereof after that proclamation and the assumption of office thereunder. only 2. He thus faults and goes on to ascribe grave abuse of effects may easily supervene. Moreover. with the inevitable result of frustrating the people’s will cannot case. stating as follows: election contests in this country. MITMUG. Navarro & Arcilla for private respondent. No. 04-334. are herebyAFFIRMED IN TOTO. Rule discretion on the doorsteps of the respondent COMELEC First Division for giving due course 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure are hereby voided and declared unconstitutional for to respondent Jikiri’s electoral protest without waiting for the final result of the pre. It may not be out of place to state that in the long history of discretion on the COMELEC First Division for holding otherwise. obvious. baneful controversies are concluded. adjudications in expediting the resolution of cases. and vexatious litigations. for all their easily-perceptible merit. In such a palpably void proclamation. i. and DATU GAMBAI DAGALANGIT.330 out of 9. 166891.e. the voting at all. the instant petitions are DISMISSED for lack of merit. 2005 in G.830 proclamation illegally made. Where it The turnout of voters during the 11 May 1992 election in Lumba-Bayabao. proclamation appeals is a different matter altogether.substantial grounds.R. ventilated and properly adjudicated by the competent tribunal. even encourages the reinforcement of a pre-proclamation suit with an Pimentel. the ruling of the may well frustrate the will of the electorate. x x x successful contestant in an election protest often Clearly. such as one that comes out DAGALANGIT were among the candidates for the mayoralty position of Lumba-Bayabao when the term of office in dispute is about to expire. petitioner Loong holds the negative view.

2. the petition was granted and a special election for Precinct No. . the new Board convened and began the canvassing of votes. 2 Supreme Court . . the proclamation of a winning candidate together with his subsequent alleged tampering of ballots 5 and clustering of precincts. On 14 July support thereto. suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty (30) days On 3 August 1992. 881. COMELEC ruled that there must be a situation where there is absolute inability to conclusion. 7 Since voting was actually conducted in Under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure." 15 Evidently. 4 rendering its judgment. Datu Elias Abdusalam.. or even if there is. COMELEC considered the petition moot abundante ad cautela is filed. otherwise known as the Omnibus Election voters.R. the set for 25 July 1992. 14 In the case before us. your protestant filed a Petition five (5) precincts which failed to function during election day.e. the election nevertheless results in failure Lanao del Sur disputing the result not only of some but all the precincts of Lumba-Bayabao. Where only an election protest ex and substitution of ballots. on the ground of massive disenfranchisement of 26. Lanao del Sur. 92-347: On 1 July 1992. on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due 1992. petitioner did not intend to abandon his recourse conducted on 30 May 1992 alleging various irregularities such as the alteration. 3 annul an election. 92. COMELEC ordered the holding of a special election on 30 May 1992 in the Paragraph 3 of his protest states "[T]hat on August 3. . On 30 July 1992 another for Certiorari with the special election was held for a sixth precinct. verified petition to declare a failure to elect. or after the considering that under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure such motion was a prohibited voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the pleading. there was no basis for the petition. violence. the massive disenfranchisement of voters due to alleged terrorism and 1992. this time therein the date of hearing should be served through the fastest means available. 12 But other analogous causes the election in any precinct has not been held on the date fixed. 8 Again. such election results in a failure to elect. to wit: amounting to lack of jurisdiction in denying motu proprio and without due notice and 1. two order to enjoin private respondent from assuming office. 2. on the other hand. the clear intent of the law is that a petition of this nature must be considered the petition moot. and. SPC No. 22-A was set for 25 unlawful clustering of precincts. 13 custody of canvass thereof. ruling that the allegations Code of the Philippines. 17 vote before a failure of election can be declared. petitioner outcome of the election. were able to cast their votes. 22-A alleging Lumba-Bayabao. the votes not cast would affect the result of the election. 106270 assailing the validity of the proclamation In the interim. 6 On 16 July 1992. SPA No. 2. he intended to pursue it. tampering with this Court. which COMELEC should have at least heard before July 1992. he has meritorious grounds in therein that when the ballot box was opened.. ballots were already torn to pieces. on 14 July 1992. the first requisite is missing. petitioner argues. as the issue raised therein was related to that of SPA No. 6. a closer examination of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. the results thereof cannot be disregarded and excluded. notices to all interested parties indicating 3. But. COMELEC dismissed the petition. Failure of election. seven (67) precincts of However. second. . petitioner lodged an election protest with the Regional trial Court of the date fixed by law or. notice and hearing. Since 311 which on 9 July 1992 was already set aside as moot. particularly Sec. SPA No 92-368: On 20 June 1992. he informed the trial court of the pendency of these proceedings. 1992. it is indubitable that the votes not cast will definitely affect the Respondents. call for the holding or continuation of the election not held. 18 The seeking to exclude from the counting the ballots cast in six (6) precincts on the ground that hearing of the case will also be summary in nature. Petitioner impugned the creation of this Board. petitioner instituted the instant proceedings seeking the declaration of after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure of election in forty-nine (49) precincts where less than a quarter of the electorate failure to elect. petitioner filed a motion to intervene in these four (4) petitions. place. indicates otherwise. assert that with the filing of an election protest. even if there was voting. Lanao del or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election Sur. On the contrary. Since It may be noted that when petitioner filed his election protest with the Regional Trial Court actual voting and election by the registered voters in the questioned precincts have taken of Lanao del Sur. there indeed might have been grave abuse of discretion in denying the petitions. not held. acted upon with dispatch only after hearing thereon shall have been conducted. COMELEC Based on the foregoing. 22 COMELEC therefore did . a fourth mayoralty candidate. on 31 July 1992. SPA No. a petition to annul an election is not a pre-proclamation controversy.P. But on 13 July 1992. another mayoralty candidate. 21 del Sur. on account of force majeure. to elect. Finally.Consequently. on 30 July Commission shall. . fraud or On 8 July 1992. within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing of a the contested precincts. filed a petition to declare failure of election in twenty-nine (29) more precincts as a result of Consequently. i. Nevertheless. suspended private respondent was proclaimed the duly elected Mayor of Lumba-Bayabao. It reads — therein did not support a case of failure of election. After all. docketed as G. Rule Lumba-Bayabao. place. private respondent filed another petition. B. 11 Sec. 10 On 9 July 1992. — If. 16 Other petitions seeking the declaration of failure of election in some or all precincts of The main issue is whether respondent COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion Lumba-Bayabao were also filed with COMELEC by other mayoralty candidates. Datu Bagato Khalid Lonta. that no actual voting took is already deemed to have abandoned the instant petition. 92-336: On 16 June 19992. (2) conditions must concur: first. the Court retains jurisdiction to hear the petition seeking to since the votes in the subject precincts were already counted. and in any of such Thereafter. thereof which was lifted from Sec. Incidentally. private respondent Datu Gamba Dagalangit filed an hearing the petitions seeking to declare a failure of election in some or all of the precincts in urgent petition praying for the holding of a special election in Precinct No. No. a new board of Election Inspectors was formed to conduct the special election cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election. or COMELEC treated the same as a motion for reconsideration and promptly denied it had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting. 92-324: On 6 June 1992. He also prayed for the issuance of a temporary restraining Before COMELEC can act on a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of election. 9 COMELEC denied the other petitions 20 which sought to include forty-three (43) more 4. terrorism. 19 the integrity of the ballot boxes therein was violated. the petition was assumption of office is not an impediment to the prosecution of the case to its logical dismissed. Lanao del Sur. petitioner filed a petition seeking the annulment of the special election of the herein protestee. it would appear then that filed a petition which in the main sought the declaration of failure of election in all sixty. the results thereon will be tantamount to a failure to elect. precincts in a special election without conducting any hearing. no voting has taken place in the precinct or precincts on On 10 August 1992. viz.

Petitioner is the incumbent Vice-Mayor of the City of .. in a COMELEC special 8. Tomas T. There was no basis for the petitions since the facts alleged therein did not constitute held on 11 May 1998. the city board of canvassers should seriously consider these anomalies specially on account of the fact that the lead of proclaimed private respondent. several Election Returns are found to have glaring discrepancies which may Jr. with blatant omissions. Agayan registered voters must cast their votes. regardless of the actual number of ballots (P150. if it can be determined. the same must still be respected. the petition must be denied outright. All told. relative few.R. receive evidence on alleged election irregularities. an action denominated Vice-Mayor in the City of Paraaque is the fact that the results thereof are statistically as Petition to Declare Failure of Elections and/or For Annulment of Elections. 2000] Paraaque. it is readily apparent that the portion of the Election Returns declare failure of election in forty-three (43) more. there is no provision in our election laws which requires that a majority of (Agayan) was arrested for voting in substitution of registered voter Ramon Vizcarra. City of [G. After all. much less grave. This special civil action for certiorari seeks to annul the en banc resolution of public the anomalies do not stop there. The 11 May 1998 elections for local officials in the City of Paraaque has likewise been There can be failure of election in a political unit only if the will of the majority has been marred by massive vote buying. attached hereto as Annex F is the Affidavit of a certain Rosemarie Pascua of Barangay Baclaran. during the canvassing of votes before the Board of Canvasser. BANAGA. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary respondent was elected through a plurality of valid votes of a valid constituency. attached hereto as Annex E is the Information dated 11 May 1998 filed votes.977) votes of the total xxx chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary votes cast for the vice-mayoralty position. shall be presented in the proper time. precincts. Metro Indeed. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary SO ORDERED. The will of the legitimate voters of the City of Paraaque were denigrated during the 11 ventilated in an election contest. 25 Thus. The foregoing incidents alone actually suffices to establish that a failure of elections BERNABE. A case in point is precinct number 483 where petitioner shockingly is supposed that: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary to have received zero (0) votes. But. In the absence numerous Election Returns were discovered to contain glaring discrepancies and are replete thereof. Petitioner. elections will never be carried out with the resultant xxx chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary disenfranchisement of innocent voters as losers will always cry fraud and terrorism. On the other hand. July 31. 9. JR. 134696. falsified or fabricated. received the second highest number of votes for the said position. 1998. 7. 24 Otherwise. 23 fraud. Moreover. On May 19. However. Also. the question of whether there have been terrorism and other irregularities is better 4.. vs. the difference Paraaque.970) of the total votes cast. on QUISUMBING. The magnitude of the vote buying in the 11 May 1998 local elections in the City of WHEREFORE.00) to vote at precincts No. the Petition for Certiorari is Paraaque. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Canvassers. Moreover. 5. not to mention the fact that numerous election returns appeared to Considering that there is no concurrence of the two (2) conditions in the petitions seeking to be tampered with. 1998 election. was replete with election offenses. There is prima facie showing that private against Agayan. total of Seventy One Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy Seven (71. Finally. as it was tainted with widespread election anomalies which constitutes election requires the concurrence of these conditions to justify the calling of a special election. the language of the law expressly people. there being no grave abuse of discretion.. J. 1998. 98-383. No. All the law requires is that a winning candidate admitted before SPO1 Alberto V. 1998. 111-112 at the defiled and cannot be ascertained. 111-112 and use the name Ramon Vizcarra. during the canvassing of votes before the Board of action case. These irregularities may not as a rule be invoked to May 1998 election as a consequence of the fact that an indeterminable number of flying declare a failure of election and to disenfranchise the electorate through the misdeeds of a voters were allowed to vote. Thus. it was discovered that numerous election returns contain glaring discrepancies The factual antecedents of this case are as follows: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary and are replete with blatant omissions. The elections for the office of the Vice-Mayor in the City of Paraaque. on its face that the conditions to declare a failure to elect are present. with Sixty Eight materially alter the results of the election for the office of Vice-Mayor in the City of Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy (68. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and FLORENCIO M. xxx the local elections for the office of Vice-Mayor in the City of Paraaque. in Precinct Nos. in denying the petitions outright.not commit any abuse of discretion. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary respondent Commission on Elections promulgated on June 29. should be declared on the ground that the will of the electorate of the City of Paraaque has DECISION been denigrated. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary TOMAS T. it must be accorded Tambo Elementary School in the City of Paraaque. not to mention the fact that several election returns Petitioner and private respondent were the candidates for vice-mayor of the City of appeared to be tampered with or appear to be fabricated. To cite but one example..[1] alleging improbable. As proof of cast. Jr. Evidence in this regard DISMISSED. For. SPA No. the winner for having garnered a the respondent over the petitioner is a mere Three Thousand Seven (3. Florencio M. Bernabe. 3. even if less than 25% of the electorate in the questioned precincts cast their the foregoing. appear to be altered. there have been several instances where purported voters were depositing more than one (1) ballot inside the ballot box. there is no more need to pertaining to the position of Vice-Mayor in the City of Paraaque. Parena that he was paid One Hundred Fifty Pesos must be elected by a plurality of valid votes. is such that the voters involved number in the thousands. Metro Manila.007) votes. the fact that a verified petition is filed does not automatically mean that a hearing Manila. what seriously casts doubt on the legitimacy of the elections for the office of the Dissatisfied. The Honorable Commission Paraaque in the May 11. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Instead. JR.Respondents. In addition to the foregoing. The local elections for the position of Vice-Mayor in the City of Paraaque. petitioner filed with the COMELEC on May 29. specifically vote buying and flying voters being on the case will be held before COMELEC will act on it. Banaga. As evidence thereof. The verified petition must still show allowed to vote. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary 10. between the votes received by the private respondent and the petitioner is three thousand xxx chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary seven (3. 6.007) votes. Petitioner. a certain Dennis Sambilay Agayan respect.: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary 11 May 1998 cannot be considered as reflective of the true will of the electorate. amounts to a denigration of the expression of the true will of the sufficient grounds to warrant the relief sought.

or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date AND MITMUG V. an election protest is an ordinary action while a petition to declare a failure of Election Protest. or declaring the annulment of the elections. Petitioner alleged that except in a case involving an election offense. copies of the registry lists. After due trial judgment be rendered as follows: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary therefor. the . the declaration of failure of election and the calling of DURING THE 11 MAY 1998 ELECTIONS. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Considering that a motion for reconsideration of a COMELEC en banc ruling is prohibited. terrorism. Thus. The expenses. in our view. The election tribunal concluded that based on the allegations of the becomes final and executory after five (5) days from promulgation.[5] and aggrieved by the COMELECs dismissal the local elections for the office of vice-mayor in Paraaque City held on May 11. or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting. 3. or ASIDE FROM BEING AN ELECTION PROTEST. petitioner now claims that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion averred that those incidents warrant the declaration of a failure of elections. He and chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary failed to pay the required filing fee and cash deposits for an election protest. be adjudged as the duly elected Vice-Mayor in meaning election protest case. Declaring that special elections should be held for the office of Vice-Mayor in the City of No.[8] For that reason.3.. JR. the COMELEC dismissed petitioners suit. 1998. while an en banc decision in a special action Omnibus Election Code. 7166 in relation to Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code.[3] chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary action. An of election in all precincts.. BANAGA. COMELEC. BERNABE. THE The COMELECs authority to declare a failure of elections is provided in our election laws. in the remote event that the Honorable Commission does not render Election Code relates to failure of election. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary results. Supreme Court. Failure to pay 3. during the 11 May 1998 elections. amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it dismissed his petition motu [9] chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary propio without any basis whatsoever and without giving him the benefit of a hearing. an order be issued to the Treasurer of the City of Paraaque to bring Failure of Elections and/or For Annulment of Elections. provides as follows: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary THE AUTHORITY RELIED UPON BY THE COMELEC AS BASIS FOR THE DISMISSAL OF THE Section 6. and in any of COURT IN LOONG V.3. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary account of vote buying. AL. The election of respondent FLORENCIO M.. He Given these circumstances. in the light of petitioners foregoing Petitioner asked the COMELEC for the following reliefs: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary contentions. It is simply captioned asPetition to Declare judgment as aforesaid.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary to postponement. for the Honorable Commission to re. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Paraaque. THE SAID PETITION SEEKS THE ANNULMENT OF after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or AN ELECTION PURSUANT TO THE DOCTRINE LAID DOWN BY THE HONORABLE SUPREME in the custody or canvass thereof. This conforms to petitioners 3. for the office of Vice-Mayor in categorization of his petition as one to declare a failure of elections or annul election the City of Paraaque. public respondent cannot be said to have gravely erred in contends that: treating petitioners action as a petition to declare failure of elections or to annul election I chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary results. failure of election and special elections[7] while Section 6 of the Omnibus 2. V. it is clear that an election took place and that it did not result in a failure to elect. petitioner filed his petition as a special action and paid the corresponding fee 3. TOMAS T. flying voters and glaring discrepancies in the election returns. and chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary First. costs and damages incurred in these proceedings be assessed against filing fees will not vest the election tribunal jurisdiction over the case. ET. during the 11 May 1998 local elections. 1998. in II chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary turn. After trial. ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR CONSIDERING THAT fixed. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary and present before this Honorable Commission on or before the day of the hearing of the Second. It is not an election 1. In contrast. the ballot boxes. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary examine and revise the same. Said Section 6. Metro Manila be annulled. impossible that he will receive zero (0) votes in any given precinct. the issue for our resolution is whether or not public respondent acted with grave [2] chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary abuse of discretion in dismissing petitioners petition. ET. THAT OF EDWIN SAR[D]EA. the minutes elections is a special action under the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure as amended. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary petition to declare a failure of elections or annul election results. petitioner timely filed the instant petition for certiorari with this denigrates the true will of the people as it was marred with widespread anomalies on Court. Metro Manila.1 Declaring a failure of elections. --. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary the City of Paraaque. JR. of his suit. Third. among others. COMELEC COULD NOT LEGALLY DISMISS THE ENTIRE PETITION MERELY ON THE GROUND Section 4 of RA 7166 provides that the COMELEC sitting en banc by a majority vote of its THAT THERE WAS ALLEGEDLY NO FAILURE OF ELECTION IN THE CITY OF PARANAQUE members may decide. petitioner did not comply with the requirements for filing an election protest.1. unless restrained by the petition. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary THE PETITION DATED 28 MAY 1998 IS ESSENTIALLY AN ELECTION PROTEST. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary on the part of a petitioner would clearly warrant the outright dismissal of his Other just and equitable reliefs are likewise prayed for. petitioners action is a office of the Vice-Mayor in the City of Paraaque. Metro Manila. It is. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary On June 29. special election as provided in Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code.Paraaque. fraud PETITION DATED 28 MAY 1998.2. election returns. for the action may also be considered an election protest. failure of elections is covered by Rule 26 under special actions. Fifth. COMELEC. Failure of Elections.2.[6] chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election. an election protest is assigned a docket number starting with EPC. an en banc decision of COMELEC in an ordinary action becomes final and executory upon by petitioner do not fall under any of the instances enumerated in Section 6 of the after thirty (30) days from its promulgation. such election results in a failure to elect. Annulling the proclamation of the respondent as the elected Vice-Mayor of the City of protest. thus. violence. Alternatively. It held that the grounds relied Fourth. COMELEC. Metro Manila. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary 1. and the other documents used in the local elections for the Office election protest is governed by Rule 20 on ordinary actions. Section 4 of RA 7166 refers Paraaque. AL. the allegations in the petition decisively determine its nature. Such procedural lapse the respondent. andchanroblesvirtuallawlibrary In this case. judgment be rendered as follows: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary While petitioner may have intended to institute an election protest by praying that said 1. a petition cannot be treated as both an election protest [4] chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary and a petition to declare failure of elections. on account of force majeure. the petition was docketed as SPA-98-383. Clearly. He Before us. his petition before the COMELEC was instituted pursuant to Section 4 of Republic Act 1. HENCE.If. while a petition to declare of the Vice-Mayor held on 11 May 1998 in the said City. The petitioner.

The petition to declare a failure of election and/or to annul election results must show on evidence on alleged election irregularities. at the election results in Parang. where the as far as possible be respected. terrorism. On There are three instances where a failure of election may be declared.[14] the petition for annulment of election results or to declare failure two conditions must concur. Election Code denominates them similarly. the fact that a verified petition has been filed thereon would be tantamount to failure to elect.[12] petitioner instituted with the COMELEC an action to declare elections as a prayer for declaration of failure of elections. A prayer to declare failure of elections and a prayer to able to cast their votes. we held that the destruction and loss place has been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting on of copies of election returns intended for the municipal board of canvassers on account of account of force majeure. is interpreted to mean that nobody emerged as a winner. violence. however. The COMELEC Whether an action is for declaration of failure of elections or for annulment of election denied motu propio and without due notice and hearing the petition to declare failure of results. fraud or other analogous causes. we ruled that petitioners first two actions involved pre-proclamation controversies election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed on account of force which can no longer be entertained after the winning candidates have been proclaimed. We Paraaque City. and that private respondent was. the Omnibus election despite petitioners argument that he has meritorious grounds in support thereto. there is no longer need to receive it. the voting and during the preparation and transmission of the election returns or in the The reason is that voting actually took place as scheduled and other valid election returns custody or canvass thereof. If the will of the people is determinable. the COMELEC dismissed the petition for terrorism. based on allegations of fraud. Moreover. the election resulted in a failure to elect. Siasi and Kalinggalang Calauag. Petitioner therein filed a petition to stop the proceedings of the board of canvassers notice and hearing. Next. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion in denying the petition. there is a also declared that there is failure of elections only when the will of the electorate has been resulting failure to elect. the board of canvassers the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to proclaimed the winning candidates. suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after composition of the board of canvassers. dismiss petition. or (c) after violence is not one of the causes that would warrant the declaration of failure of election. the petition must be denied outright.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary its face that the conditions necessary to declare a failure to elect are present. COMELEC. on the ground of statistical improbability and massive fraud the date fixed by law. violence or analogous cause. involve similar actions and issues. The COMELEC can only rule on what was . terrorism. However. COMELEC. fraud evident from the results of the election based on the certificates of canvass of votes On the contrary. proclaimed elected to that post. are also evident in the election results of the five mentioned municipalities. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary annulment of election results or to declare failure of elections in the municipalities of Tapul. violence. The board then decided to use the copies of election returns furnished to the municipal trial for his failure to properly file an election protest. where the election was muted and cannot be ascertained. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Before the COMELEC can act on a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of election In Loong vs. or even if there was voting. terrorism. custody and canvass of the election returns. suspended on the ground that it had no authority to use said election returns obtained from the or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election municipal trial court. violence. We majeure. terrorism. But we found that petitioner did not allege at all that elections were either not action on ground of untimeliness of the petition. petitioner filed a petition to declare a failure elect. disputing the result of the election in all precincts in his municipality. Nevertheless. the same must not held and where the election was suspended. fraud or other analogous causes. in fact. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Petitioner argues that the COMELEC should not have treated his prayer for annulment of In Mitmug vs. Sulu. massive disenfranchisement of voters due to terrorism. Considering that there is no concurrence of does not mean that a hearing on the case should first be held before COMELEC can act on the conditions seeking to declare failure of election. This is obvious in the first two scenarios. we ruled that the cause by making a distinction without a difference. but he did petitioner Banaga is misplaced. was granted by the COMELEC. the destruction or loss did not affect the result of the election.[18] Public respondent had no recourse but to board of canvassers were destroyed by the sympathizers of the losing mayoralty candidate. call for the holding or continuation of the election not held. the results dismissed his petition motu propio. petitioner claims that public respondent gravely abused its discretion when it no actual voting took place. he filed a petition assailing the not held. Pata. Later on. it must is no law which provides for a reglementary period to file annulment of elections when there be noted that to warrant a declaration of failure of election the commission of fraud must be is yet no proclamation. Those preparation and transmission. majeure. Neither did he aver that although there was voting. so that reliance on Loong by facts ought to have been alleged clearly by the petitioner below. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary preparation and the transmission of the election returns give rise to the consequence of These aforecited cases are instructive in the resolution of the present case because they failure to elect must as aforesaid. These essential circumstances. such election results in a failure to elect on account of force still existed.[16] This argument is plainly failure of election in forty-nine precincts where less than a quarter of the electorate were gratuitous as well as immaterial. despite a finding that the same badges of held or suspended. Comelec.[17] No positive gain will accrue to petitioners that is. He also lodged an election protest with the Regional Trial Court annul the election results for vice mayor in this case are actually of the same nature. are not present in this case. (a) the review. he conceded that an election took place for the office of vice-mayor of in Parang. nobody was elected. fraud or other analogous causes. ruled that COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petition as there While petitioner contends that the election was tainted with widespread anomalies. the COMELEC already observed badges of fraud just by looking cause of such failure of election could only be any of the following: force majeure. We have painstakingly examined the petition filed by petitioner Banaga before the Panglima Estino. or marred fatally the fraud. (b) the election in any polling Regarding the petition to declare a failure of election. we ordered the COMELEC to reinstate the aforesaid petition. The COMELEC dismissed the latter COMELEC. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary of election alleging that the attendant facts would justify declaration of such failure. Accordingly. violence. Neither was it shown that even if there was voting. Despite that petition.[15] Even before the technical examination of election and (2) the votes not cast would have affected the result of the election. The election resulted in a failure to elect on account of such that it prevented or suspended the holding of an election. on this score. namely (1) no voting took place in the precinct or precincts on of elections in Parang. The petition was denied. Nor may petitioner now complain of denial of due process.Commission shall. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary not. It was not proven that Finally. No error could be attributed to public respondent for its [10] chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary reliance on these precedents. In these instances. On review. As to the third scenario. on the basis of verified petition by any interested party and after due court. fraud or other analogous causes.[11]Note that the documents was conducted. namely.[13] all election materials and paraphernalia with the municipal absence. In their In Sardea vs.

terrorism. that the ballots have been properly appreciated. annulment of the election results. No. and MINDA DAGALANGIT. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary 2004 special election. or after (Barangay Sunggod). in their respective Comments. Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code prescribes the that in Precinct No. 164225 April 19. ballots in the questioned precincts is not one of the grounds for nullifying the election On May 10. all the 39 precincts of Lumba-Bayabao functioned during the May 12. that the election inspectors in the said the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the returns or in the custody precincts refused to enter in the minutes their valid objections. namely: (1) the election in any polling place has not Canvassers of Lumba-Bayabao to SUSPEND its proceedings. were among the immediately convene. Dagalangit. Lanao del Sur in the May COMELEC En Banc held that pursuant to the Omnibus Election Code. Galo’s petition. In fact. 2004. fake ballots were found in the ballot boxes in Precinct Nos. and 36A (Barangay Tamlang). As a consequence. however. the results of the election be annulled. hence without the existence of fake ballots in the specified precincts. 1A (Barangay Maribo). and that the use of fake ballots is not a valid ground for nullifying the elections." and that he "has lost interest in the prosecution of the same. fraud or counting of votes. or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for closing of the voting. 34A (Barangay Sunggod). 31A (Barangay Salaman). 2004. and in any of such cases the accomplished based on the fake ballots do not reflect the true will of the electorate. 2004 national and local elections. petitioner Galo filed with the COMELEC En Banc a petition4 to declare a Petitioner now comes to this Court through the instant Petition for Certiorari alleging that failure of election and to annul the results of the May 12." He prayed THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. thereby rendering his petition "moot vs. docketed as SPA that the same be dismissed for being utterly unmeritorious. there was a failure of election in Lumba-Bayabao due to serious results. Costs against petitioner. that all the election returns or canvass thereof. (2) the election in any polling place has been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting on account of any of such causes. private respondent. that during the Section 6. petition for lack of merit. respondent Dagalangit denied petitioner’s allegations of failure of elections and/or for annulment of elections for being groundless. SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ. petitioner alleged that respondent Dagalangit’s supporters discretion in dismissing his petition for a declaration of a failure of elections and for the succeeded in placing fake ballots inside a ballot box in Precinct No. 1A (Barangay amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. distribution of election paraphernalia. 34A (Barangay Sunggod). the contending parties filed DECISION their respective memoranda.filed before it. and proclaim the winning candidates. Petitioner resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of further prayed that after due hearing. namely: Precinct Nos. the COMELEC En Banc issued a TRO directing the Municipal Board of failure of election may be declared. such election results in a failure to elect. Galo. mayor of that municipality. the alleged use of fake 10. and the appointment of the members of the various On July 4.1avvphil. 2004 disagreements among the various local candidates involving the clustering of precincts. committed by the supporters of Dagalangit. GALO. (2) annulling petitioner’s proclamation on May 20. 2004 hearing. vehemently opposed the petition and prayed 31A (Barangay Salaman).6 On May 19. terrorism. proclaimed as the winning candidate on May 20. Petitioner. 29B (Barangay Rumayas). on the basis of the verified petition by any interested party and after due notice and that the COMELEC issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) directing the Board of hearing. the COMELEC En Banc issued the assailed Resolution (1) dismissing the Before us for resolution is the Petition1 for Certiorari. 2006 Instead." and (3) ordering the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Lumba-Bayabao "to Juhary A. 29B (Barangay Rumayas). the special elections. acted with grave abuse of discretion precincts located in six Barangays of Lumba-Bayabao.2 assailing the Resolution3 dated July 2. suspended or which Canvassers to desist from canvassing the election returns from the said precincts. Respondents. THE MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF LUMBA. the COMELEC scheduled and held a canvass proceedings and proclaimed respondent Dagalangit as the winning candidate for special election on May 12. 2004. In Tan v. Failure of Election – If. particularly the proclamation of been held on the date fixed on account of force majeure. It committed no grave abuse of discretion in dismissing his petition to declare In her Answer dated May 24. all the 39 precincts of Lumba-Bayabao functioned in an orderly and WHEREFORE. 04-348. Maribu). Thereafter. 2004. and academic. LANAO DEL SUR. and 36A (Barangay Tamlang). (Underscoring supplied) immediate investigation of the anomalies committed during the election be conducted. Respondents. analogous causes. 04-348. and failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election. petitioner did not appear before the COMELEC En Banc. G. 2004.7 we held that the above provisions lay down three instances where a On May 21. and that an such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect. 2004 Order of the (COMELEC) En Banc in SPA No." The five candidates for mayor in the Municipality of Lumba-Bayabao. BAYABAO. merit. complete the canvass. 04-348 be dismissed. 1994 for having 2004 of the Commission on Elections been "made surreptitiously and in contravention of the May 21. the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Lumba-Bayabao completed its Boards of Election Inspectors. pursuant to the order of the COMELEC En Banc. Commission. the instant petition is DISMISSED. No. in conspiracy with members of the Board of We cannot sustain petitioner’s contention that the COMELEC En Banc gravely abused its Election Inspectors. The assailed RESOLUTION of public peaceful manner. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary the election returns duly accomplished by the Board of Election Inspectors under the close SO ORDERED. 22A other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date (Barangay Lubo Basara). call for the holding or continuation of the election not held.net During the May 27. he filed an "Urgent Ex-Parte Motion/Manifestation"5 stating that he was already JUHARY A. that his petition be considered withdrawn. until further orders. and Minda P. counted and entered in respondent is AFFIRMED. fraud or other the winning candidates. violence. is based on his claim that there were "serious and massive irregularities The petition is bereft of merit. 2004. the voting was irregular because the election conditions for such a declaration. 2004. 22A (Barangay Lubo Basara).R. on account of force majeure. in issuing the challenged Resolution. She then prayed that SPA No. 34A fixed. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary scrutiny of the candidates’ watchers. thus: inspectors hid a ballot box allegedly to protect it from being forcibly taken. violence. petitioner. She averred that during the May 12. 2004." Specifically.: On July 2. COMELEC. 2004 special election involving six the COMELEC. the Commission that the said irregularities justify the annulment of the election held. J. or (3) after the . Petitioner thus prayed shall.

and. parties. SO ORDERED. transmission. As to the Butig Lumbayabague third scenario. and that the use of fake ballots is not a ground to declare a failure Marantao Tubaran of elections. partial Recently. Lumba Bayabao 10. Masiu vs. 6. no voting has taken place in the precinct or precincts on the date fixed by law or."8 Masiu Marawi City The established rule is that the nature of an action and the jurisdiction of the tribunal are Lumbabayabao determined by the law and the allegations in the petition regardless of whether or not the shall be held on 18 July 1998. Malabang to have that sovereignty obeyed by all. The term failure to elect means Maguing Sultan Gumander "nobody emerges as a winner. where the election was not held and where the election was suspended. petitioner is entitled to the relief sought. laws and statutes governing election contests especially the appreciation 4. transmission. PROVINCIAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF LANAO DEL SUR. votes cast would affect the result of the election. YNARES-SANTIAGO. 1998 for the municipalities of Lumba-Bayabao functioned in the May 12. This is obvious in the first two WHEREFORE. Commission on Elections. even Election Officers in these municipalities are hereby directed to cause the immediate if there was voting. 2004 special elections. Marantao said. .: It was also shown and admitted by the parties that in the following municipalities.10 we further held that before the COMELEC can act Maguing and those precincts where ballots for manual count will be used. Maguing LININDING PANGANDAMAN. Petitioner also questions the COMELEC’s nullification of his proclamation on May 20.voting and during the preparation. it is not disputed that all the 39 precincts in Special elections shall also be held on July 25. In follows: all instances. And as correctly observed Ganassi Lumbatan by respondent COMELEC En Banc. Petitioner himself admits in his petition that during the special election. Sultan Dumalondong COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS. custody or canvass of the election returns. 4. 3 the dispositive portion of which reads as the election results in a failure to elect on account of any of said aforementioned causes. Elections (COMELEC) en banc dated July 14.R. did not act with grave abuse of petitions were reinforced by reports received by the Commission from its field officers and discretion. petitioner was proclaimed as mayor on the basis of the results of "the The instant cases were filed by petitioners praying that the Commission declare [a] failure elections held on May 10. No. Costs against petitioner. the circumstances attending the preparation. Tugaya No precinct in the above towns was able to function on election day. both conditions are not Schedule for special elections in the municipalities of Madalum and Tugaya is temporarily present. and the election officers of concerned municipalities appeared. Tubaran JIALIL. When the sovereignty of the people expressed thru the ballot 1. There shall be machine counting and consolidation of votes for all municipalities except In Mitmug v. 2 These standards will be the TOTAL FAILURE OF ELECTIONS legal matrix within which this controversy will be adjudged. the publication of this Omnibus Order in their respective municipality (sic). the Acting PES of Lanao del Sur and the first. 2." 1 Corollarily. namely scenarios. custody or Kapatagan Sultan Dumalondong canvass of the election returns cause a failure to elect. BUTIG — armed confrontation of opposing political groups and vehement disagreement on the clustering of precincts."11 As stated earlier. Sultan Gumander MAHED MUTILAN. A pre-trial for all cases in Lanao del Sur involving failure of elections was set and WHEREFORE. Butig 7. on a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of election. 134340 November 25. We sustain the COMELEC En Banc’s action. Kapatagan 8. Pagayawan of ballots must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the electorate in the choice 5. 1999 1. Lumbatan 9. 1998. voting took place in Let the Executive Director for Operation[s] of the Commission execute this order with the questioned precincts. The In fine.9 Here. Lumbayanague 11. second. In the case at bar. petitioner. it was shown and admitted by the parties that total failure of election[s] took place in the following municipalities: G. 2004 The COMELEC's challenged Omnibus Order summarizes the relevant facts of the by the Municipal Board of Canvassers. in issuing the assailed Resolution. It was found that the cause of failure of election[s] in the twelve municipalities where there Challenged in this petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for temporary was total failure of election[s] as follows: restraining order and preliminary injunction is the Omnibus Order of the Commission on 1. no election was held on that day. As shown controversy thus: by the records. He also failed to show that the votes cast would affect the results dispatch. this Court emphatically stated that "[U]pholding the sovereignty of the people is failure of election[s] took place as follows: what democracy is all about. J. SO ORDERED. the election nevertheless results in a failure to elect. Marawi City of public officials may not be defeated by technical infirmities. premises considered. of elections in their respective municipalities and to hold special elections thereafter. deputies. two conditions must concur: The Education and Information Department. respondents. Ganassi is at stake. it is not enough for this Court to make a statement but it should do everything 2. their counsels. the COMELEC. Madalum 12. petitioner himself failed to allege in his petition that no Malabang Pagayawan election was conducted. the petition is DISMISSED. there must have been a failure to elect. 3. 2004. withheldpending unresolved issues before the Commission. ALEEM. of the election. During the pre-trial of the above cases. special elections for the municipalities. Well done is always better than well 3. AMERRODIN SARANGANI and NARRA ABDUL JABBAR 5.

14A1 6. covering 4. After the controversy is put to rest. official ballots and other election paraphernalia precincts. the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Kapatagan. were illegally brought to a private dwelling in said barangay and voting irregularly took + There is a need to print new ballots for all forty-nine (49) precincts and other election place therein despite the fact that the designated polling place was Gadungan Elementary forms due to the inadvertent non inclusion of a candidate's name in the original ballots. by EA Camal Calandada from Atty. there were only twenty two (22) public school election paraphernalia from her office. 1998 ordering the Election Officer of Kapatagan. 3. + All election paraphernalia are available. Muslemin Tahir. Hence. Some parties claim in fact that she was only seen at teachers who were available as BEIs and eighteen (18) of them were disqualified to act due noontime of election day while she was in the house of the incumbent mayor of Masiu. Camad Benito. In Election Case No. PARTIAL FAILURE OF ELECTION 3. Neither could the Municipal Treasurer be located on election day. 3676001 to 3676500 after finding that said VRRs were received only on December 15. KAPATAGAN — allegedly. Similarly. In precinct 2A in Brgy. MAGUING — no members of the different Boards of Election Inspectors arrived in all be held considering that the ballot box. Barangay Name Precinct No. irregularly/unlawfully issued. there was also disagreement on the venue of distribution of election supplies. And yet. failure of election is declared and special election shall 7. from 36767001 to 3676500. The order of inclusion by the Municipal Court of Tugaya. Lanao del Sur 9. Lanao del the office of the Provincial Treasurer to receive the ballots and other election paraphernalia Sur to delete. EA Cayansalam Benaning. this Commission in + All election paraphernalia for 51 precincts are available. will be to submit to the Commission its findings and recommendation within sixty (60) days from the subject of a petition to declare its nullity to be filed by the Law Department of the receipt of this Order. 2. LUMBAYANAGUE — there was non-completion of the composition of the BEIs in all 1A3/1A4 precincts because almost all appointed members of [the] BEI are disqualified by reason of 2. MADALUM — the twenty (20) appointed teachers to act as members of the different BEIs 14A2 did not arrive on election day. 1998 at issued an order dated April 30. + All election paraphernalia for eighty (80) precincts are available. on her admission during the pre-trial hearing on of ballots and other election paraphernalia to the members of the Board of Election June 25. SULTAN DUMALONDONG — Municipal Treasurer did not appear on May 10 & 11. Linuk 14A + All election paraphernalia for the 35 precincts are available. Maning Diangka and his armed escorts. The findings determinative of a clean. SULTAN GUMANDER — no BEIs appeared on election day because most of them are up. TUGAYA — widespread terrorism causing intimidation of the electorate to cast their Calandada and Muslemin Tahir to determine their criminal and administrative liability and vote. Bagoingud. said VRRs appeared to be filled 10. Provincial Treasurer. 1. to relationship to candidates within the prohibited degree. of election day thus preventing the distribution of Inspectors (BEIs for brevity). It is the desire of the The PNP. .075 voters to an investigation on the conduct of Camad Benito in contributing to the failure of election[s] allow honest election in this municipality. there was partial failure of election in the as such by reason of relationship either by consanguinity or affinity. then the in Kapatagan. it is the desire of the ballot box containing official ballots and other election paraphernalia for precinct 17A1. Macaguiling 18A The issue on the existence of alleged ghost barangays/precincts is not yet resolved by the 18A1 Commission considering that the alleged ghost precincts are being investigated and an 18A2 ocular inspection is being made by an investigating team. compliance with said court order hereby orders the Election Officer of Kapatagan to delete 11. special election shall be scheduled. allegedly by the incumbent mayor of Ganassi. TUBARAN — non-appearance of all the members of the different BEIs due to intense from the records said VRRs with serial nos. LUMBATAN — all the members of the different Board of Inspectors are disqualified to act In the following municipalities and City of Marawi. there was nothing to distribute to the BEIs on election day. 1998 + All election paraphernalia for 16 precincts are available. erase. Pursuant to said order. MASIU — the Municipal Treasurer did not get the election paraphernalia from the 200 ballots for precinct 5A.M. within the prohibitive degree. A copy of said order was received on 10 May 1998 disqualified by law to act as such. Macabao whose polling place was at Ganassi Central Elementary School was snatched Madalum shall be scheduled. within the prohibited specified precincts due to the following reasons: degree. 1998. and its order having become final.075 voters. Similarly. Commission before the Regional Trial Court in Marawi City. Commission that the issue on ghost precincts be resolved first before a special election in Brgy. 1. thru the Criminal Investigation Group in Region XII is similarly directed to initiate Commission to put to rest the issue on the controversy surrounding the 4. the Law Department is directed to conduct a joint investigation — + All election supplies are intact and available. Poblacion 1A2 5. and cancel all Voters Registration Records with serial numbers for distribution to the BEIs so there was no election supplies for distribution on election day. husband of mayoralty candidate Bailo Benito. appear thus election supplies were not distributed on election day for the following 4. GANASSI — members of the BEIs for nine precincts as herein below enumerated did not + All election paraphernalia for 39 precincts are intact and available. honest and credible elections.+ Acting election officer reported that all election paraphernalia are available except for 8. Baya 8A relationship either by affinity or consanguinity. administrative and preliminary investigation for election offenses — against Camal 12. the Acting terrorized the Acting Municipal Treasurer Okuo Macaumbas thus preventing the distribution Election Officer. used and dated 14 December 1997. 571. The court having found by implication that said VRRs were appear. rivalry among the opposing candidates. the remaining 12 who are not disqualified also did not by the Election Officer. + All election paraphernalia for fifty nine (59) precincts are available. The issue being factual and the There was also failure of election in precinct 1A1 and 17A1 due to ballot box snatching. arrived only at 7:00 A. 4. LUMBABAYABAO — candidates could not agree on the venue of the distribution of the precincts: election supplies and there was vehement disagreement on the clustering of precincts. + All election paraphernalia are available.

32A. -do. -do. 3. until further orders from this Commission. 12A. said acts shall be referred immediately 6. Matampay < 26A 8. ballots and other The acts complained of against Ex-Mayor Maning Diangka shall be referred to the Provincial election paraphernalia. Bagoingud) for the members of the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Marantao are directed to include the use in the special election since the snatched ballot box were not recovered.6A3 7. Brgy. -do. BEIs are available. Raya Madaya I 74A-6 11. However. Guimba 38A 16.88A-1/88A-2 21.15A1 7. candidate 3. Diamaru 15A 6. Campo Muslim < 12A2 2. Raya Saduc 76A 15. Brgy. ballots + All election paraphemalia for the nine (9) precincts where there was non-appearance of were cast but were not yet counted due to complaints that their integrity had been violated. Brgy. Similarly. if Ballots are to be printed for these precincts by the Commission. Inudaran Campong 29A to the office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Lanao del Sur for investigation. -do.7A1 in Precincts 32. Mapantao Goo 34A-2 are hereby directed to suspend the proclamation of Baguio Macapodi for vice mayor. Canvassing forms and winning. Bunkhouse < 8A1 Name of Barangay Precinct No. 34A). -do. Out cooperated in these acts. Banday 4A2 The Commission deems it proper that the casting of votes by the eleven voters be annulled 2. -do. and results of the special elections. Timbangalan 88A 20. Brgy. -do. These eight are: Prosecutor of Lanao del Sur for possible prosecution. 4. Brgy. The following are the precincts that failed to function + All election paraphernalia are available. and 32A2 in Barangay Taliogan.3A-1 13. South Madaya 85A 9.13A4 4.29A1 10.38A-1/38A-2 17. Tuca Kialdan 7A for Vice Mayor of the Ompia Party and his cohort Bai Sa Ganassi terrorized registered voters 4. MALABANG — twenty three (23) precincts failed to function due to shooting incidents. will cause the printing of 1. Brgy. Lolod Saduc 73A-5 18. Ganassi is directed to inform the Commission of the identity of the BEIs for precinct 2A for 1. -do. Brgy. Lanao del + All election paraphernalia for eighteen precincts are intact and available.3A1/3A2 Considering the charge of Maimona Diangka in SPA 98-404 that Baguio Macapodi. other paraphernalia shall also be provided. Eleven voters out of two hundred and sixty-eight (268) have already cast their Barangay Name Precinct No. Tubok 37A2 due to non-appearance of the BEIs. -do. Pasir < 29A 9. Lilod Madaya 42A-4 8. Tacub < 34A 14. PAGAYAWAN — casting of votes was aborted due to widespread terrorism. votes at the time but only one ballot was found inside the ballot box after the commotion. Sangkai Dansalan 83A-3 10. Calumbog 11A/11A1 1. Marawi City — there was partial failure of election in sixteen precincts (16). -do. -do. eight (8) precincts lost to armed groups their ballot boxes. Bangco 5A-5A-1 19. Chinatown 13A 3. Banco which is missing or 23. and 2A (Brgy. some commotion on election day or whose ballot boxes were snatched: took place. 2. 1. Brgy. the following changes shall be undertaken: .School at Gadungan. namely — 4. in precinct 5A/5A1. 32A1. Banga Pantar 22A/22A-1 allegedly aided by the Barangay Chairman therein. Macabao). Brgy. -do. 17A1 (Brgy. In Precincts No.3A-2 14. Betayan 5A/5A1 and a special election shall be conducted therein. -do. Bacolod Chico 3A 12. -do.000 ballots and other election forms for five precincts (8A1. BPS Billage 7A2/7A3 5. 26A. forms for precincts 1A1 (Poblacion).37A6 undelivered or without ballots contained therein. Banggolo 6A2 6.33A1 13. Brgy. Ganassi and that they were 5. the Election Officer of Name of Barangay Precinct No.37A5 except for one ballot box intended for Precinct 5A/5A-1 in Brgy.29A-2 During the special election. 2. Brgy. Fifteen (15) Ballot boxes containing election paraphernalia for five precincts out of these 23 precincts precincts failed to function. The Commission shall cause the printing of ballots and other election There being no proof that the integrity of the ballots had been violated in these precincts. Tiongcop 36A 15. MARANTAO — thirty-five (35) precincts failed to function due to terrorism in the area. All election paraphernalia are in order and available 22. same in the canvass. This could not take place unless the BEIs assigned in Precinct 2A 3. To avoid the risk of another failure of elections and to encourage public trust in the process 12A2.36A1/36A2 16. 7. < ballot box snatched The petition for declaration of failure of election in the municipality of Calanogas.29A2 11. 24A and 24A-1. of these 35. The Commission Sur will be covered by a different resolution. Sumbagarogong 33A 12. Daana Ingud Proper 3A possible prosecution. -do. the members of the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Ganassi 8. Curahab 14A 5. -do. 5. were snatched and never recovered.

Inspectors (BEIs).075) voters shall have been settled. e. in contravention of Sections 166. For this purpose. referendum and recall. all poll watchers are encouraged to provide themselves with camera and It is a basic precept in statutory construction that a statute should be interpreted in provide indubitable proof of under-aged voters. violence. and in any of such must do everything in its power to secure a fair and honest canvass of the votes cast in the cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election.a. on account of force majeure. 7 that "[O]ur Election Code. .] By ordering only elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine election . unless they are clearly illegal or not held. In the performance of its duties. 1998 more than thirty (30) from the standpoint of pure theory. Atty. 2 (1) of Article IX (C) of the Constitution gives the COMELEC the broad power to controversy on the four thousand and seventy-five (4.COMELEC: 6 of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed Omnibus Order — Politics is a practical matter. such election results in a failure to elect. . judgments to meet unforeseen circumstances that threaten to subvert the will of our voters. The or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election choice of means taken by the Commission on Elections. 4 Thus. orderly. rather than the letter of the law b. COMELEC. suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after constitute grave abuse of discretion. As stated in the old but nevertheless still very Petitioner asserts that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack much applicable case of Sumulong v. a too literal interpretation of the law that would lead to absurdity directed by the Acting PES. engage in a swivel chair criticism of these actions often Omnibus Election Code which provides that: taken under very difficult circumstances. honest. He further asserts that the prescribed time frame actually "delimits" COMELEC's authority to Considering that under-aged persons succeeded in registering voters. this Court has been liberal in defining the parameters of the committed during the election period. Time and experience are necessary to evolve patterns that will serve the ends of necessary legislation may be enacted for the holding of a special election." There can hardly be any doubt that the text Provincial Board of Canvassers. [i]s to protect the integrity of elections to suppress all evils that may violate its purity fixed. . its contacts with political strategists. COMELEC has to make snap the counting of votes with use of computer machines. 175 and 176 of the Omnibus More pointedly. The special election in the municipality of Madalum shall be scheduled only after the . thru the Criminal Investigation Group in Region XII and the Prosecution Offices in and credible elections. should not be interfered with. . orderly. elections are not conducted under laboratory conditions. Lanao del Sur shall actively help in the filing of criminal complaint for election offenses Pursuant to this intent. because of its fact-finding days after the failure to elect. incidental powers for it to achieve the objective of holding free. indeed. Petitioner argues that the above-quoted provision is mandatory because of the word "shall". call for the holding or continuation of the election not held. by constitutional mandate. and political questions must be dealt with realistically — not 1. Election officers from areas outside of Lanao del Sur shall be tapped to act as Election determines its construction. is in a peculiarly advantageous position to 2. 170. for that reason. we must not by any excessive zeal take away from the Commission on National Police who are not assigned to the affected areas as members of the Board of Elections that initiative which by constitutional and legal mandates properly belongs to it. harmony with the Constitution and that the spirit. the actions of COMELEC may not be impeccable. however. the BEIs are given explicit authority to prevent 30th day now resides in Congress. the Commission must be given a considerable Commission shall. In running for public offices.] By failing to declare a total failure of elections in the entire province of Lanao del Sur decide complex political questions . The Acting Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) of Lanao del Sur. 4. while the regular election officers in Lanao del Sur shall perform such duties as and intent. may even be elections not later than thirty (30) days after failure to elect pursuant to Section 6 of the debatable. terrorism. fraud or The purpose of the governing statutes on the conduct of elections — other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date . ." Sec. et al. would defeat the purpose and spirit for which the law was enacted. in contravention of the clear and facilities. That intention is usually found not therein and the Commission has acted on their findings of facts and recommendation(s). from voting all those registered voters who are visibly under-aged and shall reflect their The provision invoked can not be construed in the manner as argued by petitioner for it names and VRR numbers in the Minutes of Voting for future prosecution. The PNP. suspended objective for which it was created — to promote free. — If. 5 d. this Court recently stated in Tupay Loong v. a statute must be read according to its spirit Officers. COMELEC's powers in conducting elections. the power to call for a special election after the common in many areas in Lanao del Sur. 8 . . or and defeat the will of the voters. good government. prompted this Court to — c. We cannot.] By insisting on machine counting despite the proven unreliability and undependability of candidates do not follow the rules of Emily Post. Failure of elections. In the matter of the administration of laws relative to the conduct of 3. The Commission on Elections.] By insisting on holding special elections on July 18 and 25.. 6. . petitioner insists on a strict compliance with the holding of special In the process. The Commission on Elections. Election Inspectors. the elections. the same shall be replaced with a new Provincial Board of and intent of this constitutional provision is to give COMELEC all the necessary and Canvassers whose members shall be designated by the Commission. or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting. in certain municipalities. the custody or canvass thereof. . . There are no ready made formulas for solving public and to certify the same to the President of the Philippines and Congress so that the problems. on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due latitude in adopting means and methods that will insure the accomplishment of the great notice and hearing. Suharto Ambolodto. Considering the complaints received by the Commission against certain actuations of the plebiscite initiative. experience in dealing with political controversies. The purity of the elections is one of the most fundamental after the voting and during the preparation and transmission of the election returns or in requisites of popular government. . Only elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to who are assigned to the affected areas shall serve as members of the Board of Election elect. [a]dmonish against a too-literal reading of the law as this is apt to constrict rather than Investigating Team aforementioned has finished its investigation of alleged ghost precincts fulfill its purpose and defeat the intention of its authors. peaceful f. in "the letter that killeth but in the spirit that vivifieth" . In support of his cause. Too often. and honest elections. "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election. The special election in the municipality of Tugaya shall be scheduled after the Sec. shall ensure that said BEIs are given adequate briefing for this task. . a complaint that is call for a special election and that instead. and its knowledge derived from actual explicit provisions of Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Be that as it may. No less than petitioner himself concedes that there was total failure of elections in twelve (12) municipalities and partial failure in eleven (11). 8436 could be implemented without the interference of the claimed "unreliability. 2. the considered "reasonably close to the date of the election not held. Yet he now insists a total failure of elections should have been declared in the entire province of Lanao del Sur. it seeks to enjoin the holding of special elections scheduled for July 18 and 25. which date fell on July 14. the dates chosen by the COMELEC for the Indeed. the legal compass from which the COMELEC elections were "conducted on a staggered basis" on July 4. 12 Petitioner's argument that respondent COMELEC gravely abused its discretion by failing to declare a total failure of elections in the entire province of Lanao del Sur and to certify the same to the President and Congress so that the necessary legislation may be enacted for the holding of a special election.Guided by the above-quoted pronouncement. Suffice it to state that the propriety of declaring whether or not there has been a total failure of elections in the entire province of Lanao del Sur is a factual issue which this Court will not delve into considering that the COMELEC. the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. For one. through its deputized officials in the field." 9 composed of elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National In fixing the date for special elections the COMELEC should see to it that: 1. it could only mean that the decree of R. suspension or failure to elect may still be to interpret and apply laws relating to elections. The dates set for the special in the context of social conditions. the COMELEC should not and must not be SO ORDERED. invokes the answer. the holding of elections within the next few months from At balance. 10 Thus. in view of all the foregoing. July 18 and 25. we agree with the Solicitor General that the petition has been rendered moot by supervening events. it would be far better to err in favor of popular sovereignty determined. literal or liberal. inaccuracy and undependability" of the computer sets. harshly against or gently in favor of the voter's obvious elections were actually the nearest dates from the time total/partial failure of elections was choice. are binding on the Court. 18 and 25." So too must fall the argument that machine counting being allegedly "undependable and unreliable" should not be resorted to as the reasoning of petitioner. The absence of any satisfactory proof to support petitioner's allegations to the contrary reduces them to mere self-serving claims. these were "dates reasonably close" thereto. 16 Omnibus Order. Furthermore.] it should be reasonably close to Proclamation Of The Winning Candidates For Provincial Offices dated August 7. Verily — circumstances of a case. likewise fails to persuade. 1998. The insistence of petitioner that the COMELEC violated Sections 166.14 For another. thus. is in the best position to assess the actual conditions prevailing in that area. The second must be determined in the light of the peculiar annulment of the challenged Omnibus Order rings hollow. In applying election laws. should take its bearings in acting upon election controversies is the principle that "clean the petition questions the membership of the Board of Election Inspectors for being elections control the appropriateness of the remedy. 175 and 176 of the Omnibus Election Code when it ordered elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) who are not assigned to the affected areas as members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) is likewise unconvincing vis-à-vis the underlying reason of the public respondent to have an effective and impartial military presence "to avoid the risk of another failure of election. petitioner himself admits that special . 13 There is no cogent reason to depart from the general rule in this case." 11 naked provision or its ultimate purpose. and. The face of these supervening events. 1998. 1998. legal syllogism or substantial justice. the letter or the spirit. No. given the areas and is an unacceptable option to the judicial conscience. Needless to state. straitjacketed by procedural rules in the exercise of its discretion to resolve election disputes.] it should not be Police as well as the machine counting of the votes when these events have been later than thirty (30) days after the cessation of the cause of the postponement or superseded by the recent issuance of the Certificates Of Canvass Of Votes And suspension of the election or the failure to elect. the arguments proffered by the petitioner to seek the first involves a question of fact. However. 15 In the date of the election not held. the findings of fact of the COMELEC or any administrative agency exercising particular expertise in its field of endeavor. If the COMELEC saw it fit to order a machine counting of votes in the municipalities enumerated. the question really boils down to a choice of philosophy and perception of how the cessation of the cause of the postponement. prevailing facts herein. the date of promulgation of the challenged than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms. by itself. 1998. to embark upon the costly electoral exercise insisted upon by petitioner in terms of holding of special elections were only a few days away from the time a total/partial failure time and taxpayer's money is an unwarranted imposition on the people of the affected of elections was declared and. of its powers to protect the integrity of elections. it bears stressing that in the exercise of the plenitude WHEREFORE.A. the COMELEC can hardly be faulted for tardiness. 170. in isolation or In this case. Absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion. suspended or which resulted in the failure to elect.